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Notes for the Instructor

A composite sketch is a drawing of a person associated with the crime. This person could be a possible suspect or a missing person.

To create a composite sketch, a forensic artist must listen closely to a witness’s description of a person of interest. From the description given, the forensic artist turns the witness’s words into a picture of the person of interest that the entire investigative team can reference.

Lois Gibson, a forensic sketch artist from Texas, has received a Guinness World Record. She achieved the record for “having the most criminals positively identified due to the composites of one artist.” Her drawings have helped law enforcement find hundreds of criminals. As a victim of a violent crime herself, she is excellent at spending hours helping victims, who think they remember little, come up with descriptions that are very accurate.

At this stage, young scientists are continuing to use descriptive and positional words to explain objects to their peers. Examples of descriptive words include words describing color, shape, size, hardness, texture, transparency, etc. Examples of positional words include near/far, beside, behind, in front of, on top of, below, diagonal to, etc.

Students will discover that a picture can replace a long verbal description and help others better understand. In science it is very common to use pictures — photographs, diagrams and graphs — to convey your process and findings.