Toolmarks Lesson Plan
1. To introduce students to the scientific method.
2. To introduce students to lab procedures.
3. To provide students with an opportunity to solve a problem using
experimentation, observation, and the scientific method.
1. Students will be able to list and describe
the six steps of the scientific method.
2. Students will be able to describe lab procedures and rules.
3. Students will be able to determine who committed a crime based on
the evidence and their experimentation.
1. Lecture Notes
2. Lab Handouts
4. Six wood squares per group (three with known samples, one from the
crime scene, and two with no marks)
5. Crowbar - one per group
6. Hammer - one per group
7. Screwdriver - one per group
8. Dental plaster, silly putty or play dough - dental plaster is recommended
9. Popsicle sticks
10. Peanut Butter Meltaways - optional for "reward" after
completing the lab
1. Journal entry or Warm-up question: "List
the steps you need to take when solving a problem with experimentation."
2. Set up the crime scene - "Over the weekend, someone broke into
the school's cafeteria and stole the peanut butter meltaways, leaving
no snack for today's lunch. Marks were left on the outside door which
could lead to the capture of the peanut butter meltaway thief. Find
the thief, and you will also find the peanut butter meltaways!"
1. Complete anticipatory set as described. (Day
2. Handout lecture notes and discuss the scientific method and toolmarks.
3. Show students examples of toolmarks on the wooden squares. (If there
is no time for this on day one, begin here on day two.)
4. Handout the lab papers. (Day 2)
5. Model the lab by explaining each step and then demonstrating for
6. Allow groups to work at their own pace, supervising to ensure they
stay on task and follow procedures.
7. Near the end of class, instruct students to finish what they are
doing and to clean up.
8. Handout homework at the door as students leave.
1. Learning support and lower ability students
may be provided with a modified lecture note handout that requires less
2. The lab work does not need to be adapted because the groups are mixed
1. Day 1 - As a mini-quiz, have students write
down the steps to the scientific method. This "quiz" can be
used toward the final grade or as extra credit points.
2. Day 2 - On a piece of paper, have students list the steps of the
scientific method and then describe how the lab followed these steps.
1. Students will conduct a lab that will reinforce
the lecture information.
2. Students will have a homework assignment that uses information obtained
from the lab.
1. Students will be evaluated by their lab handout
2. Students will be evaluated by the final unit project.
1. Students will be expected to receive an 80% or
higher on their lab and homework.
2. The lesson will also be evaluated at the end of the unit. Students
will be expected to receive an 80% or higher on the final lab report.