Fingerprints? Do Parents and Children Share Similar Components and Patterns?

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Updated on May 31, 2013




Middle School

Difficulty of Project



$2 -$3

Safety Issues


Material Availability

Finger print kit can be purchased from I.D. Technologies Inc.

Materials and Equipment Required

A finger print kit which consists of an ink pad and roller, a jeweler`s loop, a bottle of ink remover and rolls of fingerprint squares. Paper towels and liquid soap for cleanup.

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

2 to 3 weeks. This includes the collection, recording and analysis of data, summary of results and completion of bibliography.


To test the hypothesis that parents and children do share similar components and patterns in their fingerprints.


Background Information

On the information level, this experiment serves to provide students with the opportunity to engage in an experiment that combines knowledge from both biology and chemistry and yields practical applications to our daily lives. In the light of the fact that fingerprinting has become a practice in schools as well as in other institutions, it serves to generate student`s interest. Students are intrigued by the process and the content.

On the level of the process of experimentation and substantive inquiry, this project serves to acquaint students with the essential processes of sciencing such as the importance of the use of a control, of identifying dependent and independent variables, of data collection, of pictorial and graphic presentation of data and of being able to make better judgments as to the validity and reliability of their findings. They take on the role of scientists and in the process they learn to act as one.

Research Terms

  • Types of fingerprints
  • Loops
  • Ridges
  • Whorl Pattern
  • Arch Pattern
  • Abstract Prints

Research Questions

  • What is fingerprinting?
  • What do fingerprints tell us about people?
  • How is fingerprinting used?
  • How are fingerprints produced?
  • How do fingerprints differ?
  • Do the same fingerprints run in families?
  • Do fingerprints change as we grow older?

Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research

  • What is a control? A control is the variable that is not changed in the experiment.
  • What purpose does a control serve? It is used to make comparisons as to what changed or possibly caused the change.
  • What are variables? Variables are factors that can be changed in an experiment.
  • What is an independent variable? The independent variable is the one that is changed in the experiment.
  • What is a dependent variable? The dependent variable is the one that changes as a result of the change in the independent variable.

Charting and Graphing Data

In each section of the experiment, use charts to display the obtained data such the following sample:

Subjects: Families

Description of Similarities

Number of Similarities

Experimental Procedure

  1. State the problem you are going to investigate in this science fair project.
  2. Obtain a fingerprinting kit.
  3. Obtain your subjects. These should be families, the larger the family the better. The greater the number of families you use the stronger will be your conclusions.
  4. Create the data sheets you will use to record your observations.
  5. Set up a place and a schedule for taking sample prints.
  6. Take the prints by spreading ink on the pad, using the brayer to obtain a thin film, roll the finger and then print it.
  7. Repeat step 6 with all fingers on both hands.
  8. Label the prints and place in folder.
  9. Repeat steps 6 through 8 for all of your subjects.
  10. Review the sample prints for each family. Compare the prints. Note similarities and differences.
  11. Classify the prints in terms of categories of loop, whorl, arch or abstract.
  12. Review and summarize your data for each family.
  13. Formulate your conclusion. Were their similarities in all of the families you sampled? Can you say that families do display similarities and that this is therefore useful information?
  14. Prepare your report and include all of the following: a clear statement of the problem and your hypothesis and the rational for your hypothesis. List the materials used. Describe the procedures used. Include all the data that were gathered. Include all charts and graphs. Formulate your conclusions. For dramatic value, you may include photos of the materials used or of you in the process of conducting this investigation. You may wish to display the various components of the prints. Include a bibliography of sources you used. In conclusion, you may wish to assess what you did and describe what you would do differently if you were to do this project again.


Ed Emberly`s Fingerprint Drawing Book,

Dr. Muriel Gerhard (Ed.D.) is a retired educator with fifty seven years of experience in all aspects of public education. She has been a teacher, principal, administrator, college professor, researcher, grants writer, change agent and science editor. She is the author of several books on education used as college texts. These include the best selling Effective Teaching Strategies with the Behavioral Outcomes Approach and The Behavioral Outcomes Handbook for Teachers and Administrators. Presently she is a consultant in science education and curriculum development, a marriage and family therapist, a newspaper columnist and an author. Her latest book, recently published, is a memoir of sixty vignettes entitled âNow That I`m Dead, I Decided to Write this Bookâ.