Did you know that every fingerprint is unique? No two fingerprints are exactly alike, just like snowflakes. Your own fingerprints are different from each other. Even identical twins have different fingerprints!

Fingerprints are the ridges on your fingertips. Maybe you’ve noticed them if you’ve taken a long bath and have seen the ridges on your fingertips swell up.

There are three basic patterns of fingerprints:

  • Arches. About 5% of fingerprints are arches.
  • Loops. About 60-70% of fingerprints are loops.
  • Whorls. About 25-35% of fingerprints are whorls.

There can be variations in those three basic patterns, which means the combinations are endless! When we touch things, we leave fingerprints behind. If you look closely, you might be able to see them if you touch a window or a touch screen. Because fingerprints are unique, they can be used to tell if a person has been to a place and touched certain things. Police and detectives can use fingerprints to solve crimes by matching the fingerprints they find at the scene of a crime to the fingerprints of the suspect. So cool!

What else do fingerprints do? Fingerprints help us hold and grip onto things. If our fingertips were smooth, they might slip over things more easily.

How can you look at your own fingerprints? They can be a bit hard to see when you’re just looking at your finger. But there’s an easy way to see your prints clearly. All you need is an ink pad and some paper! Press your fingertip in the ink. Then, press your finger hard against your paper. (Roll side to side a little if you need to get a better print). Pull your finger away straight up from the paper so you don’t smudge your print. And there you have it! See if you can identify arches, loops, and whorls. Compare each of your fingerprints and see how different they look!

For a fun STEAM activity using fingerprints, check out the Fingerprint Creatures art project from The Winkle! In the instructional video, we’ll show you tips and tricks for getting a great print and talk about more of the science behind fingerprints.

Take a look at our blog for more free learning resources, project ideas, and learning and lifestyle tips. Head to The Winkle website to see our latest projects and to subscribe to the Winkle Crate, our STEM subscription box, to make learning STEM at home easier than ever.

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