Fingerprinting Merit Badge Helps and Documents

A fingerprint card and an image of the Fingerprinting merit badge emblem.

Scouts learn about the history and uses of fingerprinting while doing the requirement for the Fingerprinting merit badge. They learn to take a set of prints and explore identification methods and patterns.

Fingerprinting is an elective merit badge.

Help with Answers for the Fingerprinting Merit Badge Requirements

Find specific helps for some of the Fingerprinting merit badge requirements listed below. Some of these resources will just give the answers. Others will provide engaging ways for older Scouts to introduce these concepts to new Scouts.

Ask Scouter Mom a question or share your ideas with others

Fingerprinting Merit Badge Requirement 1: The History of Fingerprinting

The History of Fingerprint Identification

This article includes information about how fingerprint science goes back to ancient times. It also includes the contributions of of various scientists and law enforcement officers.

The History of Fingerprints Timeline

See information about the history of fingerprinting in a timeline format.

Fingerprinting Merit Badge Requirement 2: Differences Between Fingerprinting Systems

AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems)

  • Identifies people by searching a large database of prints
  • Used to identify suspects in a crime
  • Used to identify people who don’t want to be identified
  • Used for large scale searches
  • Can take several hours to complete a search
  • Usually provide several results, such as the top five matches
  • Uses the entire prints from multiple fingers
  • More expensive

Biometric Fingerprinting Systems

  • Used to confirm identity
  • Used to replace ID cards, passwords, etc.
  • Used to identify people who want to be identified
  • One-to-one process, only checks if there is a match to the target print
  • Takes only seconds
  • Returns a yes or no response
  • Uses only the middle section of a single finger
  • More economical

Fingerprinting Merit Badge Requirement 3: The Science of Fingerprints

Where are Friction or Papillary Ridges Found?

The friction ridges, also known as papillary ridges, are the top layers of skin on your fingers, the palms of your hands, your toes, and the soles of your feet. These raised ridges and recessed furrows provide the friction needed to grip items with your hands and keep your feet from slipping when you walk barefoot.

The Two Basic Principles Supporting the Science of Fingerprints

  1. Individuality: no two finger prints are alike. Read more.
  2. Permanence: your fingerprints remain essentially unchanged over your lifetime. Read more.

Positive Identification

Analysts use the general pattern type (loop, whorl or arch) to make initial comparisons and include or exclude a known fingerprint from further analysis. Then the prints are compared side-by-side to identify specific information that match. If enough details correlate, the fingerprints are determined to be from the same person. Read more.

Fingerprinting Merit Badge Requirement 4: Take a Set of Prints

Requirement 4 Helps and Answers

How to Take Fingerprints

Fingerprint Card

Fingerprint Card

Download a fingerprint card to use for this activity here.

Fingerprinting Merit Badge Requirement 5: Identify Fingerprint Patterns

Other Resources

Fingerprinting Introduction

This video is a good overall look at fingerprinting and covers many of the topics required for this merit badge.

Latent Print Examination

Learn about fingerprints, palm prints, and footprints. This site is more technical than the information listed above. It might be of more interest to merit badge counselors than Scouts who are working on the badge.

Young Forensic Scientists Forum

You can connect with members of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists here. If you have done a little research into forensic science and think you might be interested in a career in the field, then this would be a good place to ask questions.


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One response to “Fingerprinting Merit Badge Helps and Documents”

  1. Tylene Byrd Avatar
    Tylene Byrd

    Is there a printable checkoff sheet for this merit badge? They are amazing!

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