Secondary project briefs (ages 11+)


Bronze Awards are typically completed by students aged 11+. They complete a ten-hour project which is a perfect introduction to STEM project work. Over the course of the project, teams of students design their own investigation, record their findings, and reflect on their learnings. This process gives students a taste of what it is like to be a scientist or engineer in the real-world.


Silver Awards are typically completed by students aged 14+ over thirty hours. Project work at Silver level is designed to stretch your students and enrich their STEM studies. Students direct the project, determining the project’s aim and how they will achieve it. They carry out the project, record and analyse their results and reflect on the project and their learnings. All Silver projects are assessed by CREST assessors via our online platform.


Gold Awards are typically completed by students aged 16+ over seventy hours. Students’ projects are self-directed, longer term and immerse them in real research. At this level, we recommend students work with a mentor from their chosen STEM field of study. All Gold projects are assessed by CREST assessors via our online platform. There are more CREST approved resources that have been developed by our partners and providers specific to your region.


There are more CREST approved resources that have been developed by our partners and providers specific to your region.


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2 years ago

Revealing fingerprints

Find out which methods are best for revealing latent fingerprints on different types of surface. This resource is published under an Attribution - non-commercial - no derivatives 4.0 International creative commons licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/). For more information visit our Terms and Conditions (www.crestawards.org/terms-and-conditions).

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Page 1 of 2 Revealing fingerprints Fingerprints show up better on some surfaces than on others. A ‘latent’ print is one that is there, but not clearly visible. The aim of this project is to find out which methods are best for revealing latent fingerprints on different types of surface. You will also need to make a permanent record of the prints, to use as evidence in court for instance. Getting Started Many factors may affect how well fingerprints show up. Type of surface: Test whether fingerprints show up better on smooth surfaces such as glass, crockery or gloss paint, or rougher surfaces such as paper or cloth. Before you jump to conclusions, think about what might be causing the difference. Consider, for instance, why police take a suspect’s fingerprints on a sheet of paper, not on a sheet of glass. Colour of surface: Check whether fingerprints show up better on light or dark surfaces. Does the answer depend on whether the fingers are clean or dirty? For example, with mud, oil / grease or printing ink after reading a newspaper. Are prints more difficult to see clearly on a patterned surface? ‘Lifting’ and recording fingerprints: If revealing fingerprints involves using chemicals, you may need to remove the print from the surface first, to avoid the chemicals damaging the surface. This is called ‘lifting’. You could investigate various types of adhesive tape to see which picks up the best impression of the fingerprint from different types of surface. You may need to find a way to ‘develop’ the print on the sticky surface to make it more visible. Click to edit project description You also need to decide how to make a permanent record of the fingerprints. This needs to be portable, and as clear and detailed as possible, for use in court. Things to think about Lighting affects visibility so make sure your tests are done under similar levels of daylight or artificial light. Age of fingerprints: Fingerprints on a surface consist of liquids secreted by the body. Touching a surface leaves a pattern of liquid, corresponding to the ridges on the fingers – just like using a rubber stamp. So, what happens to the fingerprints as the liquid dries? Investigate whether fresh fingerprints show up better than old ones? If so, how long do they take to fade? A few hours, days or weeks? Does it depend on whether the surface is porous? Useful Resources Revealing latent fingerprints: Forensic scientists ‘dust’ surfaces to make fingerprints show up better. Try various powders to see which reveal prints most effectively. Check whether the answer depends on the type and / or colour of the surface. Iodine vapour can also be used to reveal latent fingerprints. You could try this, but be careful what you expose to iodine – it may permanently stain some surfaces. The results: When you have decided the best methods of collecting fingerprints check the effectiveness of your methods by holding a short ‘trial’. You will need: A record of a fingerprint taken from a surface. An ink fingerprint taken from a ‘suspect’. The prints may or may not be from the same finger. If different they should be of the same type (arch, loop or whorl), and similar enough that the answer is not obvious. An independent judge (or jury). A prosecutor, who has to convince the judge that the ‘lifted’ fingerprint is the same as the one from the ‘suspect’. A defence council, who has to show that the prints are not the same.

Bronze level

Ten hour projects recommended for ages 11+. Find out more about this level and how to gain a CREST Award on the Bronze Awards page.


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Bronze

Silver level

Thirty hour projects recommended for ages 14+. Find out more about this level and how to gain a CREST Award on the Silver Award page.


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Silver

Gold level

Seventy hour projects recommended for ages 16+. Find out more about this level and how to gain a CREST Award on the Gold Awards page


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Gold