Cold Case 1: The Romanovs

Course Overview

Students assume the role of a forensic investigator to solve mysterious aspects of Russia’s historical Romanov tragedy.  In the process of analysing the evidence and forensic reports, students learn valuable lessons about forensic scientific methods and practice.


Forensic scientists determine facts from the evidence they evaluate and may testify as expert witnesses in civil or criminal
courts or other legal proceedings. It is the responsibility of the lawyers, judges, and juries to prosecute, defend, and judge the guilt or innocence of an
individual accused of wrongdoing. It is the responsibility of the forensic scientist to present the scientific facts in a fair, objective manner based on
accepted scientific methods to facilitate the decision.  This course compliments the Ecolinc  program, ‘Be a DNA Detective’.

Background information

We are constantly exposed to media comments  around criminal investigations.  This coverage might suggest:

  • Their conclusion is scientifically proven
  • Forensic teams are searching the scene for clues

People generally trust scientific authority but don’t necessarily understand how forensic science actually works. Unless we understand how science
works, how can we know whether or not to trust the scientific claims?

Prior knowledge

There is no prior knowledge necessary.

Learning Intentions

In this program, the students will:

  1. Become familiar with the steps involved in the scientific method.
  2. Develop and test their own hypothesis using the range of scientific data available.
  3. Develop accurate conclusions supported by forensic evidence.

Estimated Duration: 90 Mins

Victorian Curriculum descriptors

  • Scientific knowledge and understanding of the world changes as new
    evidence becomes available; science knowledge can develop through
    collaboration and connecting ideas across the disciplines and practice
    of science (VCSSU089)
  • Science and technology contribute to finding solutions to a range of
    contemporary issues; these solutions may impact on other areas of
    society and involve ethical considerations (VCSSU090)
  • Identify questions, problems and claims that can be investigated
    scientifically and make predictions based on scientific knowledge (VCSIS107)
  • In fair tests, measure and control variables, and select equipment to collect data with accuracy appropriate to the task (VCSIS109)
  • Use scientific knowledge and findings from investigations to identify relationships, evaluate claims and draw conclusions (VCSIS111)
  • Reflect on the method used to investigate a question or solve a
    problem, including evaluating the quality of the data collected, and
    identify improvements to the method (VCSIS112)
  • Communicate ideas, findings and solutions to problems including
    identifying impacts and limitations of conclusions and using appropriate
    scientific language and representations (VCSIS113)

Course Development

Jo Tate