This is a site that as the author states, "has interesting information on forensics and interactive activities for kids to play." Included are 12 separate activities formulated to get kids to think about subjects they may not be that familiar with, yet, should find fascinating. It is from NOVA, the highly acclaimed science documentary series on PBS. It starts with 3-D Mug Shot that uses laser-imaging to construct 3-D pictures of faces that could be used in the near future to help law enforcement fight crime. Next, the learner investigates the Bog Bodies of the Iron Age; people who were buried in peat bogs hundreds and even thousands of years ago in Northwest Europe. Then the user learns how Chemical Residue is found and analyzed after an explosion or bomb goes off by using chromatography. This section also discusses Juvenile Bombers. Next, is Create a DNA Fingerprint which explains what DNA is, and asks the user to "solve a mystery" by working in the DNA Fingerprint Lab. Dig and Deduce discusses the demise of the Neanderthals and allows the user to dig up artifacts and bones found at various archeological sites, interpret their findings and formulate a conclusion based on the evidence. Grave Analysis is next and in this interactive, the user can examine skeletal remains of an Inca burial from a cemetery in Lima, Peru, read how the author determined facts such as age and other important characteristics, and even the manner of death. Identifying Remains with DNA analyzes how nuclear DNA is used to identify crime suspects, is used in paternity tests, or to identify loved ones who have recently died. It also discusses and explains what mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is and how it is used. Impact to Collapse looks at how and why the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center collapsed and discusses the impact of the airplanes that hit them, the damage done, the ensuing inferno, and then, the actual collapse of both buildings. Recommendations are made for constructing safer buildings. The Map in Question asks the learner to help determine whether or not the map shown is a "real" Viking map used to explore North America during the 15th c., or is it a forgery? Reading the Remains takes a look at prehistoric remains found in a grave in central Thailand and answers the questions of who this person was in life and examines the society from which they came. Remnants of an Expedition presents an audio slide show of the 1845 Arctic Exploration made by 128 men and a "seasoned" British naval captain who set sail for the Northwest Passage and was never heard from again. The learner is brought along on the journey to discover what possibly happened to the crew based on artifacts found, and formulate their own ideas to help solve the mystery of the "lost expedition." Finally, Tollund Man is by the author's own description, "perhaps the most famous bog body in the world." Found in 1950 in Tollund, Denmark, it was quickly determined that the body was 2,400 years old and in near perfect condition, down to the "stubble on his chin" to the "prints on the pads of his toes." Not only what he wore is discussed, but his physical characteristics are described, what his last meal was, and how he died is also analyzed.
Type of Material:
In class, homework, individual, team, lecture, etc.
The user will learn investigative techniques that will enable them to better understand the science of forensics.
The use will explore new technology related to anthropology and forensics
Target Student Population:
Lower level anthropology students
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Courses such as: Biology, Geography, History, and Science, Basic computer skills, capability to log onto the internet, ability to surf the web.
NOVA's website claims that it is the "highest rated science series on television" and is also "the most watched documentary series on public television." There is no reason to doubt those claims. NOVA has been on television (PBS) for over 25 years, so its content validity has been proven many times over and its significance to its viewers concerning the field of science is undeniable. Each activity has one or more links taking the learner to another page to explore, widening their scope of discovery, and making the experience unforgettable. Clearly scholars have developed the different tools
In 3-D Mugshot, the term "Accordion Fringe Interferometry," where "interferometry is the measuring of objects using interference patterns as a tool," might be above Grade School level comprehension.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
All the material presented definitely facilitates the learning of students. It is clear and very well organized. The site engages the learner through the interactive process and is effective in doing so. The use of audio, photographic images, text, and video, brings the material to life. It builds on what may be taught in the classroom via film, lectures, slides, or textbooks, but the appeal is even greater due to the dynamic way it is presented.
Each interactive module is stand-alone in nature Assignments could be developed for each one very easily based on education level and discipline
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The material is easy to use, extremely engaging, is of high quality, and is visually appealing. It is very easy to navigate around the site, the links are visible and all work. Each activity is self-contained and instructions are provided if necessary. Where the activity has a "feedback" link, user can ask questions directly to NOVA, or seek an answer under FAQ's, or, they are welcome to make comments. Oftentimes, a "non-interactive" or "non-flash" version of the same activity is also presented, which shows the same text and graphics as the interactive version, but does not allow the user to "click through" to load the activity. A Flash 5 link is provided and is available for Safari 3.x, Firefox 2.x-3.x, Opera 9.5, and AOL for Macs, and I. E. 6 or greater, Firefox 2.x-3.x, AOL 9, for PC's.
One activity, "Identifying Remains with DNA" requires Flash 5 and needs to be uploaded.
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