Science of Innovation: Biometrics

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, security lines are here to stay. What if you could move through with just a sideways glance at a camera? That’s becoming a reality with the innovation highlighted in the latest installment of the “Science of Innovation” video series from the collaborative team of NBC Learn, USPTO, NSF, and NSTA.

This installment also highlights the math for your STEM efforts. The video’s connected lesson plans go beyond fingerprints to help you guide students in using math to solve a biometrics problem. The series is available cost-free on,, and

Use the link below to download the lesson plans in a format you can edit to customize for your situation. And if you had to make significant changes to a lesson, we’d love to see what you did differently, as well as why you made the changes. Leave a comment, and we’ll get in touch with you with submission information. We look forward to hearing from you!

–Judy Elgin Jensen

Image of Tony Tasset’s EYE on location in Chicago’s Pritzker Park, Summer 2010, courtesy of Michael Kappel.


SOI: Biometrics highlights the innovation to biometric identification made by Arun Ross, Ph.D. and Reza Derakshani, Ph.D.

Lesson plans

Two versions of the lesson plans help students build background and develop their own biometric identification method, perhaps coming together to agree on a “clue” left by a classmate by which that person might be identified. Both include strategies to support students in their own quest for answers and strategies for a more focused approach that helps all students participate in hands-on inquiry.

SOI: Biometrics, A Math Perspective models how students might investigate a question about biometrics by applying math concepts when analyzing physical features.


SOI: Biometrics, An Engineering Perspective models how students might devise a method for identifying individuals using physical features.

You can use the following form to e-mail us edited versions of the lesson plans:

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