An Algor Mortis Lab Your Students Won’t Forget

My Death Investigation Unit is my all-time favorite topic to teach in my Forensic Science class! It’s filled with interesting content, fun activities, engaging labs, and my students love it just as much as I do. When a fellow forensics teacher, Jason Briski, shared the idea to use a hot dog to teach algor mortis in my Forensic Science Teachers collaborative Facebook group, I knew I had to add it to my lesson plan line-up. Today, on the blog, I am sharing An Algor Mortis Lab Your Students Won’t Forget.

An Algor Mortis Lab Your Students Won't Forget

Jason’s idea was simple- place a hot dog in a hot water bath, remove it from the heat, and record the temperature of the hot dog as it cooled. When he shared his idea, I thought, “This will be the perfect way to introduce algor mortis to my students.” After adding some of my own flair to the lab, I created this lab worksheet that my students used to conduct the lab.

An Algor Mortis Lab Your Students Won't Forget

Check out the images of this fun activity:

An Algor Mortis Lab Your Students Won't Forget
Students started the lab by placing their “victim” (aka: hotdog) into a hot water bath. When the temperature reached 98.6 degrees (average body temperature), the students removed the hot dog from the water.
algor mortis lab
They took the temperature every 30 seconds for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, the hot dog was pretty close to room temperature. This is a great way to introduce algor mortis- the heat loss of a body after death.
time of death lab
Students recorded data and then created a line graph to depict the temperature change.
time of death lab
Then, I had my students wrap their “victim” in a blanket to determine the effect that clothing might have on heat loss. They repeated the same steps, recorded their data, and added the new information to their line graph.
graphing algor mortis

This was a great introduction lab for teaching algor mortis to your forensics students. It really gave my students a visual representation of how a body loses heat after death. The analysis questions at the end of the lab brought up some great conversations between my students.


Want more? Check out my Death Investigation Lesson Plan Bundle! It includes all of the lessons, notes, practice assignments, activities, and assessments that you need. Don’t reinvent the wheel! I’ve done all the work for you. Get it HERE.

Thank you for checking out today’s post: An Algor Mortis Lab Your Students Won’t Forget! I hope that you found something in today’s blog post that you can use in your Forensics class! Until next time….

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