Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson, students will learn about DNA and how to use it as evidence in forensic investigations. Students will also learn about some of the limitations of using DNA evidence.

Learning intentions:

  • Students will understand what DNA is and how to use it in forensic investigations
  • Students will understand the limitations of using DNA in forensic investigations
  • Students will gain a general understanding of some of the technology used to analyse DNA samples.

21st century skills: 

CommunicatingCritical ThinkingEthical UnderstandingProblem FindingProblem SolvingTeam Work 

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 10 Science:

  • Transmission of heritable characteristics from one generation to the next involves DNA and genes (ACSSU184)
  • Scientific understanding, including models and theories, is contestable and is refined over time through a process of review by the scientific community (ACSHE191)
  • People use scientific knowledge to evaluate whether they accept claims, explanations or predictions, and advances in science can affect people’s lives, including generating new career opportunities (ACSHE194)

Syllabus outcomes: SC5-12ES, SC5-13ES, SC5-14LW

General capabilities: Literacy, Critical and Creative Thinking, Ethical Understanding

Relevant parts of Year 10 achievement standards: Students explain the processes that underpin heredity and evolution. They evaluate the validity and reliability of claims made in secondary sources with reference to currently held scientific views, the quality of the methodology and the evidence cited. They construct evidence-based arguments and select appropriate representations and text types to communicate science ideas for specific purposes.

Topic: STEM

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work work: Real-life CSI – Secondary 

Time required: 65 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class discussion and assistance with practical work required.

Resources required:

  • A device capable of presenting a video to the class.

Per group

  • Forceps
  • Glove with a hair inside
  • Hairnets (for student/s collecting the evidence)
  • Labcoat (for student/s collecting the evidence)
  • Magnifying glass
  • Rubber gloves (for student/s collecting the evidence)
  • Student Worksheet.

Keywords: Forensic Science, Crime Scene Investigation, DNA, Genetics, DNA Profiling, Gel Electrophoresis, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Evidence, STEM, Science.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will…

  • … understand what DNA is and how to use it in forensic investigations
  • … understand the limitations of using DNA in forensic investigations
  • … be introduced to some of the technology used to analyse DNA samples.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • … identify what DNA is and how it is used in forensic investigations
  • … name and describe some of the technology used to analyse DNA samples.

Teacher content information:

Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is the individual genetic code found in every cell (except red blood cells) of each person. DNA determines our physical makeup (for more information on DNA structure and function, watch the video in Part A).

DNA is usually used to help solve a crime in two ways:

  1. If a suspect has not been identified, biological evidence can be taken from a crime scene, analysed, and compared to the profiles of known offenders who are already in criminal DNA databases to help identify s
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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: How can something microscopic be used to crack a crime?

The following clips will help you for the task that follows.

1. Watch the following clip to find out more about DNA:

What is DNA and How Does it Work? - Stated Clearly (

2. How might DNA be used as evidence in Forensic Science?

3. Watch the section between 07:46 - 08:50 of this clip from the Sci Show:

The Real Science of Forensics - Sci Show (

4. Watch the following clip:

Inside the Crime Lab: Forensic Biology DNA Unit - Denver Police

DNA Profiling: Who stole the exams papers?


A burglary takes place where the have the Year 12 end-of-year exams are stored. As the thief escapes the building, a security guard giving chase grabs the robber's gloves. The robber leaves the scene in a white car, but the security guard doesn’t get the number plate as they are too exhausted from the chase. The sch

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