Education Technology

Forensics Case 14—Hot Air, Cold Body: Using Newton's Law of Cooling to Determine Time of Death

Published on 10/17/2008

Activity Overview

Students create a temperature versus time graph for cooling and become familiar with Newton's Law of Cooling. They use the cooling-rate equation to estimate time of death of the victim.

Key Steps

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    To be able to calculate the cooling constant of air, students use a model "victim" (such as water lock in a container or warm potato) to make a cooling curve.

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    With the data from the time-graph, students have the option of using the equation solver to calculate the cooling constant of air.  From the paramedic's report, students can use the constant to estimate the victim's time of death.