Is your high school or precocious middle school student a CSI fan? If he or she has demonstrated in interest in the science behind detective work, you may want to implement a homeschool forensic science curriculum as an elective in your homeschool. Learn about how to build an intriguing course here.
What is Homeschool Forensic Science?
Perhaps your student loves to read detective stories and watch shows like CSI Miami, or maybe he or she wants to explore forensic science as a career option. Not only will creating a forensic science curriculum help your student explore what it would be like to solve crimes and stop criminals in their tracks, but it also incorporates many different course materials into one body of study.
Most introductions to forensic science curriculum will generally include the following topics:
- The historical development of forensic science
- How crime scenes are processed
- The role of physical evidence and the types of evidence that can be collected
- The study of hair, fibers, and paint and what these items tell forensic scientists
- Fingerprints, how to collect them, how they can be preserved, and how they are classified
- What blood tells us about crime scenes
- DNA and how it works in identification of victims and perpetrators
- Drug identification and how to analyze the chemical makeup of drugs
- What bugs can tell investigators about crime scenes
The purpose of pursing a homeschool forensic science curriculum is to whet the student's appetite for further scientific study in other courses. Forensic science could make a good curriculum for middle school students or for first year high school students; alternatively, you could use forensic science as an elective in your curriculum. Finally, a student who really enjoys their homeschool forensic scientist curriculum may go on to college as a forensic science major.
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Forensic Science in the Lower Grades
While there is no set curriculum for elementary level forensic science study, you may find that students interested in detective work will enjoy a unit study on forensic science. A great resource for elementary level forensic science study is Vivien Bowers' Crime Scene ($9.95), and a nice resource for forensic science related experiments is Elizabeth Harris' Crime Scene Science Fair Experiments ($19.95). Finally, the Alex Super Sleuth/Detective Activity Kit ($21.44) has kids solve mysteries around the house. These three resources will be sufficient, and will keep younger siblings occupied while older siblings perform more detailed studies. A great benefit of forensic science at any level is the ability to be exposed to different scientific concepts in addition to learning to reason through mysteries.
Middle School Forensic Science
Depending upon your student's academic abilities, you may wish to use the high school level homeschool forensic science instead of these suggestions for middle school forensic science. Most middle school students will benefit from logical training as well as the scientific aspects of forensic science. Here are some suggestions:
The Fallacy Detective and The Thinking Toolbox ($22/each) - These are great resources for teaching students critical thinking skills and how to analyze scientific findings as well as how and when one should engage in argument. Both of these textbooks make learning the basics of logical reasoning fun.
Kingfisher Knowledge: Forensics ($8.95) - This text introduces students to the basics of forensic science and crime scene investigation.
Crime Scene Science Series ($14.05 each) - These texts are a bit more in depth on topics such as using the body as evidence and criminal profiling
If your middle-school aged student has a good grasp of reading, and is sincerely interested in more advanced topics of forensic science, please continue reading to find suggestions for implementing a high school forensic science curriculum in your homeschool.
Building a High School Homeschool Forensic Science Curriculum
There are three texts that are typically used in a high school forensic science curriculum: Criminalistics: An Introduction to Forensic Science ($103.40), Forensic Science: A Guide to Investigative Techniques ($72.00) or Forensic Science for High School Students ($66.00). Alternatively, you may wish to use The Forensic Casebook by N.E. Genge ($12.00), a very nice introduction to forensic science for less-serious students. When putting together a high school forensic science curriculum, you'll also want to take lab work into account. For this, Home Science Tools has a forensic science kit for $55.00. You'll probably also want a microscope, or access to a microscope in order to study fingerprints and blood test results more closely.
A great web resource for your forensic science curriculum is the NHRS Forensic Science website: http://nrhs.nred.org/. The website not only outlines a potential course of study, but also it provides exercises and links to other forensic science websites.
Finally, you may want to look into Forensics Illustrated (http://www.bsapp.com/forensics_illustrated/index.html), an online forensic science curriculum that allows for students to perform labs, take tests, and complete practice worksheets.