Lesson (2x): Forensic Entomology

What these files add:

  • abridged (optional) background readings w/ checks for understanding

  • editable Slides w/ enhanced, labeled, enlarged images of important evidence

  • re-orders agenda for more student discussion & asking questions

  • cards for scaffolding asking questions about evidence

  • videos for discussion

  • reflection exit ticket

Task: Using climatological data, forensic insect evidence collected from deceased human, experimental entomology data, and research on blow fly life cycles, estimate the time of death for a homicide victim.

General question: If entomologists study insects, how does their research help us estimate time of death?

Major concepts: Science as inquiry & modeling, evidence & inference, all organisms must be able to obtain and use resources, grow, reproduce, and maintain stable internal conditions, energy as heat.

Real historical events: This uses a real homicide case from 1986 and incorporates scans of the forensic examiner’s notebook, the news articles, letters among investigators, experiments performed by the entomologist, and photographs of the insects collected.


I. Blow Fly Life Cycle & Accumulated Degree Hours

1. Introduction

a) Do Now - murder trial

b) Turn & Talk: Sample of ____? collected from body as evidence (good opportunity for realia)

c) Request from State of Connecticut

2. The Life Cycle of a Blow Fly

a) Document: Forensic Examiner’s Report

b) Worksheet: Blow Fly Life Cycle

3. How Weather Affects Blow Fly Life Cycle

a) Document: Preliminary Climatological Report

b) Worksheet: Accumulated Degree Hours & weather data

II. Experimental Design for Time of Death

4. Designing an Entomology Experiment to Solve a Problem

a) Card Sort & Reveal: Asking the Right Questions

optional: Rear flies on raw liver!

b) Document: Entomology Case Experiments

c) Discussion & Worksheet: Entomology Case

5. Videos About Forensic Examination

a) Career: A Day in the Life of a Forensic Pathologist

b) Career: Forensic Examiner without the Mess…Camila the Cryptanalyst

6. Exit Ticket: Reflection on Media Coverage

Setup Decisions: “Asking the Right Questions Activity”

Decision 1:

Option a) Print double-sided.

Option b) Print single-sided and staple on top of each other.

Decision 2:

Option a) Ss flip over all the cards and make a conclusion together.

Option b) Ss flip over a few cards at a time and revise their explanation.

Option c) Ss flip over only X number of cards, chosen by group agreement, and make conclusions based on the answers. Compare class answers.


  • NIH, Visible Proofs: exhibition of the history of forensic anthropology (answer keys on website & on file by request)

  • William Krinsky, Yale University School of Medicine

  • Henry Lee, Connecticut State Police Forensic Laboratory