SaH: Fingerprint Investigation

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In this experiment, you will be able to discover the unique nature of fingerprints. How many different fingerprints can you collect to observe? Share with us your favorite finding during your forensic exploration!



How do forensic scientists use fingerprints to solve crimes?



  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Clear Tape


What to Do

  1. On a piece of paper, shade in a very dark area to make an inkpad for your finger.
  2. Rub your finger in the shaded area until it is covered in lead.
  3. Place the sticky part of the clear tape over your shaded finger.
  4. Remove the tape carefully, without smudging the fingerprint and stick the tape to a new piece of paper. Label your finger.
  5. Repeat this for as many fingers as you would like to investigate.
  6. Compare your fingerprints to the images below – what patterns can you identify in your own fingerprints?

What is Happening?

A fingerprint is unique to an individual. – they are difficult to alter and remain the same over a lifetime, which make them a good marker of human identity. Since no one has the same fingerprints, when they are recovered from a crime scene, they can be used by forensic scientists to identify potential suspects.


Activity add-ons:

Get more fingerprints to investigate the people in your family. Once everyone has given you their prints ask them to make some unidentified prints. Can you figure out who the mystery prints belong to by comparing to your master prints?

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We here at the Reading Science Center understand that these are unprecedented times. as such, we wanted you to know that we are taking the following precautions until further notice:

  • We have an air scrubber (Vollara) that we use in the Center
  • We have deep cleaning complete weekly 
  • Sanitizing every three hours using MICROBAN Sanitizing spray
  • Hand Snaitizer is readily available throughout the Center
  • Masking is required regardless of vaccination status
  • Limiting Hours (No Tuesdays until February)
  • Temperature Checks and an illness questionnaire
  • We respectfully request that if you or a family member with you is feeling under the weather, you visit us another time.  
  • If we need to close, we will post on Social Media as soon as we have made the decision

Thank You and we look forward to you and your family visiting the Reading Science Center!