Huffster asks:

Fingerprint Comparison Science Project -what are the different variables in this project?

We are helping our son with his 2nd grade science project.  He wanted to see if kids have similar fingerprints to their parents versus other random people (the kids in his class).  We got thumbprints from four families and from all the kids in his class.  We categorized the types of prints on each thumbprint.  We are stuck on what the different variables are in this project.
In Topics: Science fair
> 60 days ago



Feb 3, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Hi -
First, the concept of variables is way too sophisticated for most 2nd graders, and really shouldn't be part of the school curriculum at this level.

What your son is investigating is whether or not a particular pattern of ridges on one's fingers runs in families (is inherited). That is the research question. The variables are the individuals tested and the patterns investigated. For simplicity, your son should record the pattern of the same finger on each person surveyed, for example, the index finger. There are 3 main fingerprint patterns and several more less common ones.

Don't help him too much - remember it is his investigation.

Michael Bentley, Expert Panel Member
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Additional Answers (1)

dgraab , Parent writes:
Hi, This project sounds very interesting!

According to a similar thumbprint science activity for high schoolers ( ), "The Federal Bureau of Investigation categorizes prints by three main patterns: arches, loops, and whorls," and you can use the Internet to find pictures from many websites that help to identify these characteristics of fingerprints.

For instance, I googled, "fingerprint characteristics" and found these related online resources:

I also did a search for "fingerprint variables" and found this resource that you could review to help your son with his project:

I hope this is helpful to you!

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