The Case of the Stolen Painting: A Forensic Mystery

The Case of the Stolen Painting: A Forensic Mystery


Sydney Bergman
School Without Walls SHS
District of Columbia Public Schools
Washington, D.C.

Lesson Feedback


This video was conceived around the idea that students, particularly students not taking AP classes, have a practical application for knowing about the major divisions between plants, particularly about the details of plant anatomy and reproduction. 

My objectives for this lesson are as follows: 

  • Students will be able to identify the major evolutionary innovations that separate plant divisions, and classify plants as belonging to one of those divisions based on phenotypic differences in plants. 
  • Students will be able to classify plants by their pollen dispersal methods using pollen dispersal mapping, and justify the location of a ‘crime scene’ using map analysis. 
  • Students will be able to analyze and present their analysis of banding patterns from DNA fingerprinting done using plants in a forensic context.

For the lesson, students will need to be familiar with the idea that living things are related, that these relationships are part of organisms’ evolutionary history; that there are types of plants; and that DNA can be used to establish similarities and differences between individuals and species. It will also be helpful for them to know that increased genetic diversity will increase a species’ likelihood of survival. The lesson will take approximately 135 minutes (one 90 period, one 45 minute period), with some material assigned as homework. Materials needed: Paper, writing utensils, color printing is ideal.

Instructor Biography

Sydney Bergman teaches biology at School Without Walls SHS in Washington, DC. She is a native of Shepherd Park, in Northwest Washington, DC, and is proud to be back at SWW, where she attended high school. After graduating from SWW, Sydney attended the University of Pittsburgh, where she studied biology and writing. Her biology education focused on ecology and evolution. In her free time, she enjoys terrible action movies, reading, traveling, cooking, and co-parenting the world’s most poorly behaved cat. 

Additional Online Resources

Cornell Institute for Biology Teachers: Bouquet of Flowers
“Design the World’s Best Artificial Flower” activity can be found on this site, sponsored by the Cornell Institute for Biology Teachers.

Learn.Genetics: Genetic Science Learning Center
This site, sponsored by the University of Utah’s Genetic Science Learning Center, provides instructions on how to extract DNA from anything living.

STEMWorks: Forensic Fact and Fiction
This is a video sponsored by STEMWORKS entltled "Forensic Fact and Fiction" that discusses the truth behind TV forensic science.