In this activity, students learn about the collection and processing of DNA evidence and use DNA profiling to solve a crime. The activity is designed for use on an interactive whiteboard with the whole class, and it can also be used individually or in small groups at a computer or with a data projector and laptop.

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • describe where DNA is found in the body and how DNA may be ‘left behind’ at a crime scene
  • describe the basic structure of DNA
  • explain the process of DNA profiling

Download the Word file (see link below) for:

  • introduction/background notes
  • what you need
  • what to do
  • teacher notes
  • extension activity.

Download the zip file (see link below) to use the interactive offline. Unzip and then view by selecting/opening the html or swf file. The contents of the zip folder must be saved in the same location to use the interactive.

Note: Click the picture below to open Crime scene DNA in a popup. You will need the Adobe Flash Player to view it.

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Read these articles to learn more about DNA profiling and New Zealand’s DNA databank. This RNZ audio looks at the false expectations and impression of forensic science created by TV dramas compared to reality.

Find out more about ethical frameworks and using them in the classroom.

Useful links

ESR (Institute of Environmental Science and Research) is the home of New Zealand forensic science. Visit their website for detailed information on DNA and forensic biology.

Visit the New Zealand Police website to find out more about their forensic services.

Activity idea

The Ethics thinking tool uses common ethical frameworks to help you explore ethical decision-making and judgements with your students. You may want to use a ‘consequentialism’ or ‘rights and responsibilities’ approach to explore the issue of a national DNA databank. If you register as a teacher, you can customise the tool to suit your ethical question and chosen approaches.
Ethics thinking tool

    Published 28 March 2012, Updated 2 May 2014