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  • Why are people wrongly convicted?

  • How are people biologically unique from each other and how can we use that to identify people that have played a role in a crime?

  • Why is DNA so powerful as an identifier?


According to the National Registry of Exonerations, over 2,000 prisoners have been exonerated since 1989.   The number of wrongful convictions in the United States is conservatively estimated to be in the tens of thousands per year.  Additionally, the United States has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world. These startling statistics provide us with an opportunity to reflect and act.  Recent scientific advances have brought exculpatory evidence into the courtroom, while legal organizations, like the Innocence Project, have marshalled legal resources that work tirelessly to free the innocent.

For “Innocence,” students partnered with the California Innocence Project.  The CIP is headquartered locally at California Western School of Law. It is the state’s leading vehicle for exonerating wrongful convictions.  Students will receive case files of currently incarcerated individuals. Since the majority of exonerations are based on DNA analysis and debunking junk science, biological science will be central to this process.  Our exhibition will be held at California Western School of Law where students will make presentations to the CIP.


California Innocence Project

California Western School of Law


Forensic Science Myth Busters
Memo for California Innocence Project
Behaviors of the Brain
Reports & Creative Pieces


NGSS Inheritance and Variation of Traits

  • Performance Expectations: HS-LS3-1: Ask questions to clarify the relationships about the role of DNA and chromosomes in coding the instructions for characteristics traits passed from parents to offspring

  • Performance Expectations: HS-LS3-3: Apply concepts of statistics and probability to explanation the variation and distribution of expressed traits in a population, Science and Engineering Practices: Ask questions and define problems

  • HS-LS1-4: Analyze and Interpret Data- Using a model based on evidence to illustrate the relationship, Engage in Argument from Evidence

  • Disciplinary Core Ideas: LS3.A: Inheritance of Traits & LS3.B: Variation of Traits

  • Crosscutting Concepts: Scale, Proportion, and Quantity & Systems and System Models


  • Crime Scene Launch

  • Blood Typing Lab

  • PCR & Electrophoresis

  • Bioinformatics

  • Guest speakers: Crime Scene Specialist, Forensic Evidence Lab Technician, California Innocence Project

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