Relation to Syllabus

The information presented on this page is designed to be used by teachers to show the links between the material in this trail and the NSW HSC Chemistry (Stage 6) Syllabus. Relevant excerpts of the Syllabus are shown on this page and a copy of the full Syllabus may be downloaded from the Board of Studies website in PDF format. Additionally, teachers are advised to take note of the Board Bulletins as they contain up-to-the-minute important information.

9.9 Option - Forensic Chemistry

Contextual Outline

A biologist asks for confirmation of a long-held view that two similar groups of organisms have evolved from a common ancestor in the near past. A physicist wants an explanation for the different spectra obtained from two apparently similar stars. The earth and environmental scientist wants to know why trees are growing well at one site and the same species is dying off at a similar site close by. Local council authorities want to trace the source of the chemical that caused a fish kill in the river downstream of a park used by the general public.

All of the above and others from palaeontologists to plumbers, from investors in oil to investors in jewellery, will ask chemists to identify materials. From engineers faced with identifying the cause of road slippage to specialist art restorers, technicians will ask chemists to describe and explain the qualities of molecules involved in their work. The signature shapes, compositions or behaviours of chemicals are useful tools in solving many problems faced by people in all sectors of our society.

Forensic chemists work within the general field of analytical chemistry. They will be asked to work through samples, analyse compounds and mixtures to identify the trends or patterns in evidence and draw conclusions from a wide range of investigations. The accuracy of the forensic chemist's analysis is crucial and after the analysis and problem-solving is completed, the forensic chemist must also have the skills to select and use reporting styles that appropriately, as well as accurately, communicate the information obtained from the evidence.

4. Because proteins are a major structural and metabolic component of all living organisms, the analysis of protein samples can be useful in forensic chemistry. Students learn to:
  • distinguish between protein used for structural purposes and the uses of proteins as enzymes
  • identify the major functional groups in an amino acid
  • describe the composition and general formula for amino acids and explain that proteins are chains of amino acids
  • describe the nature of the peptide bond and explain that proteins can be broken at different lengths in the chain by choice of enzyme
  • compare the processes of chromatography and electrophoresis and identify the properties of mixtures that allow them to be separated by either of these processes
  • discuss the role of electrophoresis in identifying the origins of protein and explain how this could assist the forensic chemist
  • perform first-hand investigations using molecular model kits, computer simulations or other multimedia resources to present information which describes the composition and generalised structure of proteins
  • perform a first-hand investigation and gather first-hand information about a distinguishing test for proteins
  • perform a first-hand investigation to carry out chromatography to separate a mixture of organic materials such as the pigments in plants
  • perform a first-hand investigation and gather first-hand information to identify the range of solvents that may be used for chromatography and suggest mixtures that may be separated and identified by the use of these solvents
  • perform a first-hand investigation to carry out the electrophoresis of an appropriate mixture and use available evidence to identify the characteristics of the mixture which allow it to be separated by this process

All Syllabus extracts Copyright © Board of Studies NSW 1999 and provided here as a courtesy to teachers by the Key Centre for Polymer Colloids without warranty or claim of ownership. Teachers, students or anyone using this information for decision-making purposes should refer to the original documents presented by the Board of Studies NSW.

Please note that the Board of Studies NSW also releases Board Bulletins containing additional important information. Users are strongly advised to take note of these Bulletins.