Play Forensic Flashlight Tricks Activity

4.8 based on 4 ratings
Updated on Feb 16, 2011

A break and enter has just occurred in your neighborhood and the homeowners are very upset. The police are on scene but can’t seem to find any clues. They have called you in to examine the scene for footprints and fibers.

When you arrive, the homeowners tell you that the suspect was in their kitchen. At first glance, there does not appear to be any evidence on the floor. However you know better! Here is a simple technique called oblique lighting that is used every day by forensic specialists:

What You Need:

  • Flashlight
  • Smooth surface or floor
  • Small pieces of paper approximately 4” x 4”
  • Camera (optional)
  • Pen or pencil


What You Do:

  1. Find yourself a good-working flashlight with a round stem.
  2. Ask everyone to leave the crime scene!
  3. Move to the entrance of the kitchen and get down on your hands and knees.
  4. Turn off all the lights. The darker the better!
  5. Turn the flashlight on and set it on the floor.
  6. Pivot the flashlight slowly until you see a solid beam of light on the floor.
  7. Everything that is visible in that light is potential evidence! Have your child check for hairs, footprints, stains or anything that seems interesting.
  8. Now take the square pieces of paper and fold each one in half making a tent.
  9. Label each card (A-D) and use them as crime scene markers for your evidence.
  10. Once your markers are in place, take a photo of the scene and prepare for court!

Oblique lighting is a simple technique that uses angles of light to uncover evidence. Try it on any floor or smooth surface and see what you can reveal. Try to locate footwear impressions that match known shoes in the house.

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