While schools may sometimes have skeletons in their closets, they are rarely the kind a forensic anthropologist is looking for. One of the most difficult aspects of teaching forensic anthropology stems from the scarcity of available skeletal samples.
NCSSM science instructor Candice Chamber set out to offer a solution for teachers with limited access to skeletal remains or adequate casts, so they could offer case studies to their students. With Chambers’ solution, all a teacher needs to create a randomized forensic anthropology case simulation is a deck of standard playing cards and access to the Internet.
Students are dealt a selection of seven playing cards. Students can then look up each card on the accompanying “Skeleton Keys” website, where each card corresponds to artifacts, skeletal remains, environment, or other demographic features that would allow students to recreate a case study. On the website, students can view detailed images and in some cases, even rotate skeletal remains with their mouse in order to view all 360 degrees of an artifact.
Teachers can use playing cards and the website to create their own activities for students. They may wish to have students write a report detailing their findings, or perhaps even write a creative crime short story that contextualizes their findings.
Anyone wishing to use the cards in their classroom can now also purchase the Skeleton Keys card deck professionally printed by DriveThruCards.