Track an outbreak, look for a cure.
The renowned forensic anthropologist Dr. Diane France, Ph.D., D-ABFA, worked with TI to develop two TI-Nspire™ classroom activities that enable students to use simulated data and evidence to make a positive identification from a line-up of persons of interest.
The new activity, The Bandit’s Bad Hair Day, introduces students to the STEM concepts behind DNA fingerprinting in a relevant, meaningful context. By taking them through the processes for testing trace evidence, the simulation provides opportunities to learn about the structure of DNA, the use of restriction enzymes to break DNA into specific strands, how they are sequenced and what they mean.
Body of Evidence casts students in the role of the forensic anthropologist. It provides them with information from a simulated death investigation and challenges them to identify the victim from a list of missing persons. By matching interactive graphical plots of the data with the victim’s state of decomposition, the students unravel the case using the same STEM tools real-life investigators use.
Both activities include: Technology tips to help you focus the learning; student worksheets; assessments; and materials to promote classroom discussion and inquiry-based learning about the science and math.
As the daughter of a country doctor, Diane France got hooked on science at an early age.
Her father cultivated that interest by allowing her to have a chemistry lab in the basement, letting her take his microscope to the nearby rivers to look at interesting creatures in the water, and encouraging her fascination with gophers, tadpoles and other critters she’d bring home to study.
Years later, after following her passion for science into forensic anthropology, Diane would examine bones believed to be those of the Russian Princess Anastasia; the skull of the American outlaw Jesse James; and human remains discovered in the debris of the World Trade Center after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack.
Far more often, though, she uses her scientific and technical expertise to assist law enforcement in identifying victims of foul play, accidents, aircraft crashes and natural disasters.
And though, from the outside, her work appears to be cold and clinical, Diane says there is perhaps an unexpected dimension to her work.
"When you know something about the remains you study, you realize that you may be the last person who can give them a voice about who they were and how they died.” she says. “You must treat the remains with respect because they were once part of a living human being."