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CREEPY CRAWLERS: Biologist Lauren Esposito searches for spiders and scorpions around the world.

Some people have cats or dogs as pets. Lauren Esposito has an eight-eyed, eight-legged whip spider the size of a human hand. The spider, named Nae Nae, lives in Esposito's office. She lets people hold Nae Nae to show that he's not as scary as he looks.

Esposito is a biologist at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. She studies spiders, scorpions, and other arachnids (uh-RAK-nids). Part of her job is to teach people what's neat about the animals--even people who don't like them.

Arachnids Everywhere!

Earth is home to about 1 million species of arachnid. They range from tiny mites the size of the period at the end of this sentence to whip spiders the size of dinner plates. They live everywhere from deserts to swamps. Some, such as house spiders, live mostly indoors. "It's safe to assume that there's always an arachnid within a few feet of you," says Esposito.

Esposito studies how arachnids are related to each other. To do that, she examines preserved arachnids at museums. She also travels the world to look for new species.

In October 2017, Esposito joined an expedition of scientists to the Asian country of Malaysia. They wanted to discover new species living in a rainforest there. On the first day, Esposito and another scientist saw something moving in a rotting log. They dug in and found a ghost scorpion--a type of arachnid known for being tough to spot. After examining it, they realized it was a new species! "We high-fived and jumped up and down," says Esposito.

Creepy or Cool?

Esposito knows why some people find arachnids scary. Some species inject toxic venom when they bite or sting. Esposito received her first sting this past April when she startled a Pacific forest scorpion. It hurt about as much as a bee sting.

But most arachnids aren't dangerous, says Esposito. In fact, many arachnids help us. For instance, spiders eat mosquitoes and other pests.

Scientists think that fewer than half of arachnid species have been discovered. Soon Esposito will travel to Mexico, China, and Madagascar to search for more. She loves her work--even if it means the occasional sting. "For me, it's a perfect job," she says.

Insect or Arachnid

Both insects and arachnids are invertebrates, or animals without a backbone. Here are some main differences between them.


* Three body sections

* Three pairs of legs

* Wings on some species


* Two body sections

* Four pairs of legs

* No wings

Think: How are this insect and arachnid similar?


Creepy Crawlers

PAGES 14-15


Develop scientific questions about how arachnids' adaptations help them survive in their environment.



Core Idea: LS4.C: Adaptation

Practices: Asking questions

Crosscutting Concept: Structure and function


Reading Informational Text: 9.

Integrate information from two texts.


Science: 3.1 OA, 4.1 OA, 5.1 OA

ELA: 3.6H, 4.6H, 5.6H, 6.5H

Lesson Plan

(1) Watch a video to learn about scorpion adaptations.

Show students the video "Scorpion Scientist," available at

After watching the video, ask:

* What adaptations do scorpions have that help them survive? (They have venom to kill prey or protect themselves against predators, and they use camouflage to help them blend into their surroundings.)

* What information about scorpions in the video surprised you? Why?

(2) Read the article and integrate information from two texts.

Have students read the article with a partner. After everyone has read the article, ask:

* Why is it important for scientists to study spiders and scorpions?

* What is one example of an arachnid adaptation that benefits humans? (Spiders eat mosquitoes and other pests.)

* How do you think an ecosystem would change if its arachnids disappeared?

Allow students to work independently to complete the "Spider Wrangler" skills sheet, available at /superscience.

(3.) Use a skills sheet to ask questions about arachnid adaptations.

Read the last paragraph of the article aloud to the class. Ask: What do you think Lauren Esposito is hoping to learn when she searches for arachnids on her upcoming expeditions?

Tell students they will work with a partner to come up with their own research question about arachnids.

Distribute the skills sheet "That's a Good Question" (Til), define its vocabulary, and discuss examples of each question type. Have students complete the skills sheet, then go over answers as a class.

(4) Extend the lesson by playing a game online.

Have students use the sidebar

"Insect or Arachnid?" on page 15 to identify the main differences between insects and arachnids.

They can use the information to play the game "What's Bugging You?" at /superscience.


That's a Good Question

Name: -- Date: --

In "Creepy Crawlers" (pp. 14-15), you read about how Lauren Esposito studies arachnids around the world. Like all scientists, she starts her investigations by asking questions. Read the information about scientific and nonscientific questions below. Then, working with a partner, use information from the article to come up with your own research question about arachnids.


* Relate to facts and observations

* Can be investigated by collecting facts and data

* Have a definite answer Example: How many species of arachnids are found in the U.S.?


* Relate to feelings or opinions

* Cannot be investigated by collecting facts and data

* Have many possible answers Example: What is your favorite type of spider or scorpion?

1. Discuss: Spend a few minutes talking about the article with your partner. What was the most interesting thing you learned? What else are you curious about, based on what you read?

2. Brainstorm: In the space below, list at least three questions that you and your partner have about arachnids.

3. Refine: Look at your list of questions. Using the table above, decide whether each question is scientific or nonscientific. Mark scientific questions with an S and nonscientific questions with an N. If you have no scientific questions on your list, brainstorm again until you come up with one.

4. I nvest i gate: Pick the scientific question you're most interested in and write it below. How would you investigate to find the answer? (Hint: Think about what facts or data you would need to answer your question, and how you could collect them.)

Our scientific question is: --

We would investigate this question by: --


* That's a Good Question (Reproducible, T11) Answers will vary. Good scientific questions are testable and specific, and often lead to other questions.


That's a Good Question (T11): Ask questions about arachnids that could lead to another investigation.

Spider Wrangler (online only): Use two sources to answer questions about biologists who study arachnids.

Scorpion Scientist (online only): Lauren Esposito describes scorpion adaptations as she looks for local scorpions in California.

What's Bugging You? (online only): Spot all the arachnids and insects in a Halloween scene.

Caption: Jumping spiders' excellent vision helps them spot-and pounce on--prey.

Caption: Lauren Esposito shows off a scorpion in her California lab.
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Title Annotation:life science
Author:Grunbaum, Mara
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2018
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