Gather a variety of clothes from your home include shoes, socks, pants, tops etc. and place them in a plastic bag. When students arrive into class dump all the articles on your desk and in the center top of the board, in large letters write the word “CLOTHES”. Underneath the word draw 3 arrows pointing downward.
Discuss with students how to arrange the clothes into groups. Accept all answers and begin to break down the groups of clothes into smaller and smaller groups until there is only 1 item left for each group. (Example: There is only 1 blue shirt with buttons, there is only 1 black shoe with a buckle, etc.). (If you are unsure as to how to draw the diagram on the board see FIGURE 1 below). Discuss with students the different possibilities of breaking down the clothes. Examine the different ways this task could be accomplished, discuss if any person’s suggestion are wrong. Discuss with students if there is ever is a “wrong” answer for this activity.
Break students down into 6 groups of 4 students. Have prepared for each group a bag filled with various items. Bags can be filled with almost anything: CD’s, movies or miscellaneous objects. It is important to note that all the bags should have similar objects in them. Give each group a bag and ask them to break the objects down into groups using whatever method they want. They are to record all the decisions they have made about breaking down the objects on a piece of paper in a branching format. (Example: A bag with the following items (rock, puzzle piece, tea bag, seashell, plastic flipper, plastic fork, spoon, skate egg case) may be broken down in the following way:
Once each group has broken down their bags and recorded the necessary information, have 2 groups come to the blackboard and quickly draw what their group has done. The groups will almost always have something different. TEACHER TIP: Check all groups work and pick the two groups that are the most different to present. With each groups information on the board a discussion about classification can now take place. Again discuss which group is wrong or right. Discuss what groupings are more descriptive then others (Example: The grouping of non-living vs. living items is very good where as the grouping of black things and white things is not as descriptive.) Have students brainstorm on ways they can improve this breakdown (by changing some of the headings). Have students explain why an object can not be put into a grouping twice (Example: Why isn’t the rock (which is white) also under the category white things?) Try to set up bags that will make certain questions and problems arise. Discuss what problems scientists might encounter when trying to classify a newly discovered creature.
Through the Activity (Time: 1 day to set up, 2 days in library, 3 days to construct, 3 days to present.)
NOTE: CONSTRUCTION CAN TAKE PLACE OUTSIDE SCHOOL
Place students into 10 groups; assuming this will allow 2-3 students per group. Prior to the start of class organize 10 small paper bags or boxes. (Whatever is handy will work). Label each bag with a different characteristic the students are to investigate. The bags should read:
2. How feeding/what feeding
5. Body Covering
6. Protection from predators
7. Warm or Cold Blooded
8. Live Birth/eggs
9. Type of skeleton
10. How organism Breathes
Inside the bag, place the names of all 10 phylums or classes on a scrap of paper. These names can be found below:
Phylum-Chordata Class-Reptilia (sea turtles)
Phylum-Chordata Class-Mammalia (*whales, seals, dolphin)
Make sure each student has a photocopy of the data sheet:
Have students from each group come pick out of the bag what phylum or class they will be investigating for and record the data on their worksheet. Example: One student from each group will come up to the bag labeled “Reproduction” and pick from the bag one of the 10 phylum or classes listed above. Once all the groups have their sheets filled out and in order explain the concept of the lesson. Explain to students that they are scientists who have just discovered new creatures on the planet Mars. They must show and present their animals to the scientific world. In front of them (on their data sheet) explains all the data they have on their animal. They must construct the animals using the specific traits they have on their sheet so they can show the world what this new animal looks like. Allot 2 class days in the library to allow enough time to gather information. Students should be filling in the third column of their data sheet: Characteristics of phylum/class. Click here for an example of a Taxonomic Twisters data sheet.
Once data sheets have been collected and checked by the teacher (ensure students are in the right direction) thE newly discovered organisms can be constructed. NOTE: Once students begin to construct their organism many questions will arise. For example, a student may ask how to show that their organism has gills (since gills are found internal to animals). This is an excellent opportunity to show pictures or preserved organisms that do have gills to see if students can figure out that organisms with gills usually have gill slits and that is how they can portray gills on their organism. Make sure all students have a copy of the Rubric to help them construct their organism. Once all organisms have been constructed students should “present their scientific findings” (show there animal) to the class. Have them present in such a way that the other students can learn the differences among the phylums. Example: A student might present and say the following “This is our discovered animal, it reproduces like a mollusk in the class bi-valve which means it lays eggs externally and sperm is deposited on the eggs”.