AiS Challenge Team Interim

Team Number: 75

School Name: Santa Fe High School

Area of Science: Forensic Osteology

Project Title: Identification of Human Remains by Skeletal Measurements

  Problem Definition:
For years forensic medicine has been limited in both speed and accuracy. Forensic scientists may take a few hours to a few weeks to identify the skeletal remains of a human. During this time a killer can run free, get away, or even strike again. Problems can also occur during the actual calculation process; trying to come up with former height, age sex, race, or weight of a person. Sometimes these calculations can go so astray and completely compromise a composite sketch. An African-American female can be easily mistaken for a Native American male if the analyzer is on a tight schedule and can only perform certain calculations. Our goal is to simply make it faster, easier, and more efficient to perform this task.

Problem Solution:
Our program will be an easy to use GUI (Graphic User Interface) which will start off as a picture of a skeleton. Once at this picture one will click on the appropriate bone group (cranium, limb, thorax, etc.) and will get a larger picture of this area. From here they will click on a specific bone and get a prompt box asking for certain measurements pertaining to that specific bone. When the available measurements are entered the user will then go back to the main menu and repeat the process until all of their measurements are entered. At this point they will click OK and the computer (after making the necessary calculations) will output an estimated age, race, sex, etc.

Progress to Date:
Currently our project is coming together after a long period of difficulty in obtaining research materials. We have determined our math model and are experimenting with the GUI functions almost daily. Though we have not yet actually written any of our program, we anticipate no problems with the program itself. We have also spent a lot of time in trying to locate Dr. William M. Bass, a prominent forensic anthropologist to be our mentor.

Expected Results:
In the next week we expect to have a functioning and complete series of math models. The program will be comprised of if - else statements that will simply filter the inputted information until a match can be made. Once the base program is done we may decide to continue with it and make certain improvements. For example, we will probably start fine tuning some of the age estimation math, making it a lot more accurate. We may also include sections of code that take yes or no answers to certain indicators and output things such as diet, bone exposures, or even something that cross-checks previously broken bones with hospital break records. If time allows we will also include facial reconstruction and dental record check sections.

Team Members: Sitki Polat, Angelo Chavez, Seena Eftekhari, Alex Clemmer, Miljen Aljinovic

Sponsoring Teacher: Anita Gerlach

Project Mentors: N/A


Reichs, Kathleen J., ed. Forensic Osteology - Advances in the Identification of Human Remains Springfield, Illinois: Charles C Thomas, 1998.

Scheuer, Louise, and Sue Black. Developmental Juvenile Osteology San Diego, California: Academic Press, 2000.

Forensic Osteology. 5 Dec. 2001.

Skull Module. 4 Dec. 2001.

Skeleton, Vertebrate. Encyclopedia Britanica Vol. 20 1961 ed.