Lesson 2: Criminal Investigation and Forensics

Snapshot

Grade Level

8-10

Duration

1-2 periods

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Introduction

Evidence in an integral part of criminal court cases, and there are specific protocols that must be followed when evidence is collected and used in court. Cases such as the 2007 trial of Robert Pickton show us how complex this can be, particularly in cases involving forensic evidence.

Forensic science can be simply defined as the application of science to the law. In criminal cases forensic scientists are often involved in the search for and examination of physical traces which might be useful for establishing or excluding an association between someone suspected of committing a crime and the scene of the crime or victim. Some areas of forensics include: forensic biology, forensic pathology, forensic entomology, forensic chemistry/toxicology, forensic counterfeits and documents, and forensic firearms identification or ballistics. This lesson will teach students about the process of collecting and using evidence in court. It will also provide an in depth look into the different areas of forensic science.

Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will:

  • Learn why there are rules pertaining to the use of evidence in court
  • Understand that police must take special measures when collecting evidence from a crime scene
  • Learn about some cases where forensic evidence was key
  • Know that in criminal cases, the rights of the accused as well as the victim are protected
  • Become knowledgeable in different areas of forensic science

Focus Questions

  1. What kinds of evidence can be collected in a police investigation?
  2. What rules must police follow when collecting evidence?
  3. What are some examples of cases where forensic evidence played a vital role?
  4. What are some of the different areas of forensics?

Teaching Summary         

Topics 1 & 2: Use of Evidence in Court & Police Investigation

These topics are covered in Activity 1. Students will read Handout 1: Evidence in Court and Handout 2: Regina vs. Feeney. Afterwards, they will complete a role play exercise and answer three discussion questions.

Topic 3: An In-Depth Look at Forensics

Activity 2 will give students more detail on the specific areas of forensics. Students will read Handout 3: Forensic Science and will work in groups to come up with questions for a Jeopardy game on the forensic areas.