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Forensics up close: It’s pretty cool

A handful of youngsters got their hands dirty this week, learning about following clues to figure out the what, where Photo by Brandon Hicksand who.
The dirty hands – more precisely, fingers – were part of the lesson summer readers at the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library heard on fingerprints and how they are used to solve crimes.
Children’s Librarian Ashlee Williams described how police officers use special equipment to collect fingerprints from crime scenes. They then compare those prints with those of suspects to see if there is a match.
“Fingerprints have different components,” Williams told the youngsters. “Everyone’s is unique and no two people have the same fingerprints.”
Included in the lesson was information about the different parts of a fingerprint: the whorl, arch and loop. Williams said it’s those parts that help police officers identify suspects.
But reader Sophia Hyder had another term in mind after the talk and a hands-on – or fingers-on – lesson: “It’s pretty cool,” she said.
The young readers were given a chance to take their own fingerprints, then compare them with the other children’s at the program. Sophia’s judgment came afer using a magnify glass to look up-close at the differences in fingerprints.
They were given a pencil to rub onto a blank sheet of paper. The graphite from the pencil lead made a powdery surface for the readers to mash their fingers into.
After pressing their fingers into the graphite dust, they pressed their fingers onto tape, then placed the tape on another sheet of paper.
From there, the readers could compare their fingerprints with each other’s to see the differences.
“My pinky and thumb both have an arch,” was Jayden Laroche’s observation.
Williams also shared different books on fingerprints with the young readers.