Beyond the Activity

Submitted by rodolfo on Sat, 2010-06-19 12:37

Choose one of the newly discovered organisms that you feel the students can work best with. Re-explain to the class that this is a newly discovered organism that a group of scientists have just discovered and they are now to try to classify it using the current classification system we use today. Students will need textbooks and possibly some information sheets to aid them in this activity. Students will attempt to classify what Kingdom, Phylum, and Class the organism should belong to. They should write the information on a piece of paper and explain why they choose a particular phylum or class. Students may have difficulty at first but try to stress to them they need to decide which traits are more important to look at. (Example: To decide the Phylum of the animal is it more important to notice that the animal has a backbone or that the organism has stinging cells?) Students may become frustrated, however this will only help you to explain how difficult it can be for scientists to organize living things. Collect students’ work and choose the best two groups for a debating match. Have each side debate over the correct placement of this new creature and explain their reasons for feeling this way. When each group has presented their side have the rest of the class decide which group is “right” and vote on a placement for this new creature. From this debate process the teacher should be able to discuss with the students the various points associated with taxonomy: Is there ever a “right” answer when placing organisms into taxonomic grouping? What problems do scientists encounter when they find a new organism? How does DNA play a role in placing organisms into correct taxonomic grouping? What would scientists do if they found a new creature that did not fit into the current classification groupings? These discussions can be interwoven throughout the year when discussing classification of plants, animals, fungi or any living thing. Additionally, having students attempt to classify such a difficult animal stresses to students what traits of an organism are important when classifying. Example: A squid has eyes however that is NOT an acceptable trait to classify a squid. This is an important concept that many students have trouble mastering. Furthermore, the concepts covered such as body covering, respiration etc. are topics that can be revisited throughout the year when studying other organisms, human anatomy or diversity.

OBIS is a project of:
IODE Sponsored by:
Martin International and Les Grands Explorateurs
With in-kind support from:
Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, Duke University
Universidad Simón Bolívar Flanders Marine Institute

OBIS strives to document the ocean's diversity, distribution and abundance of life. Created by the Census of Marine Life, OBIS is now part of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, under its International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) programme.