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Scientific classification.

Background

Naming, grouping, and organizing knowledge has been a feature of humanity throughout time and across all cultures. It is part of what makes us human. Using the five senses and sorting objects come so naturally to children that teaching classification and its importance to science seems essential.

Classification

Classification is simply grouping things, using characteristics they have in common. We classify things in libraries, in stores, and in our closets. We see classification systems in grammar, in bus schedules, and in the phone book. And, of course, classification is essential to science in our attempts at organizing and understanding the world. Classification helps scientists find, identify, and study whatever interests them. Rocks, stars, and chemicals are all classified. Living things are classified too.

Linnaeus

Scientists used to name species with extremely long, descriptive names. As new species were found, names kept getting longer and longer--and in thousands of different languages. Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, developed a system of naming things that was based on the way that non-scientific, indigenous people used. He used two names, one that was more general and one that specifically identified the unique species. He chose Latin, the language of science at that time. Eventually, he developed layers of categories into which new species could be placed: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species. Every species has its unique genus and species name. The scientific name for humans is Homo sapiens Linnaeus. The genus name is capitalized, the species name is not. Both are italicized (when typeset--otherwise underlined when written by hand), and the paired name is followed by the name of the scientist is who named it.

Taxonomy

Taxonomy is the naming of living things. Scientists are not sure how many different species there are, but surely there are at least 10 million, even though fewer than two million have been named so far. New species are discovered every day. Dichotomous keys are developed to help people identify creatures. Dichotomous means divided into two parts, thus dichotomous keys consist of a series of paired statements that separate a larger group into successively smaller groups until each individual species is named.

Initiating Questions Levels Pre-A--A

1. How are things grouped in our classroom?

2. Where else are things grouped?

3. Can you name some things in the classroom that are red? Smooth? Round?

Follow-up Questions Levels Pre-A--A

4. What is the best way to group objects? To describe objects?

5. Continue to give your students collections of objects and ask them to group them.

6. Continually point out how objects are grouped in various places.

Level Pre-A

Main Concept: People like to group things. This is called classification. Scientists like to classify things.

Picture Activity

Ask your students how the objects in a bedroom are grouped. Ask them to describe objects they see. Is there a different way to organize things? What kind of things might scientists need to group?

Vocabulary

Answers: Big Group: c, l, s, f; Small group: a, s, i, y Can the students think of any other ways to group letters? How about letters that have a tall part (like "t" or "f") and letters that don't? How about letters that have a straight part and letters that have a curvy part? Do some letters have both a straight part and a curvy part?

Weekly Lab

Put a small handful of buttons in the large compartment of each plate. Review properties by asking your students to describe some of the buttons. Encourage your students to find one property that separates the collection into just two groups. See if you can get your students to think in terms of "red" and "not-red," "holes," and "no holes." (If buttons are not available, you may use anything that is small, numerous, and different such as: 15-bean soup, various nuts and bolts, paper fasteners, pasta, candies, etc.)

Math

Point out to your students that they are grouping, or classifying, the shapes--those with three sides and those with four sides.

Answer: Triangles will be colored red and rectangles will be colored blue.

Storytelling

Have your students explain to the class how they divided their buttons into groups.

Challenge

Use questions that can be answered with a "yes" or "no." Ask "is it red?" and not "What color is it?" You could practice by playing "20 questions," where only "yes" or "no" questions are allowed.

Bringing It Home

Ask your students what people buy in grocery stores. Ask them how people find what they want. How is the store organized to help its customers?

Level A

Main Concept: Classification is the process of putting things into groups that are alike. Scientists classify plants and animals to study them.

Vocabulary

Answers:

Consonant Group: c, l, s, s, f;

Vowel Group: a, i;

Like a Vowel Group: y;

Explain the role of the letter "y" and why it is sometimes used like a vowel.

Weekly Lab

(See Level Pre-A.)

Math

Answers: Three-sided shapes will be colored red. Four-sided shapes will be colored blue.

Some shapes are polygons and some shapes are nonpolygons. Some shapes may have straight sides (lines) plus one or more curved sides. Students can ignore whether the sides are straight or curved. Some students may be fooled by the large shape that, at first, appears, to be a right triangle, but it has a very short fourth side at the top. Some students may need help seeing this.

Writing in Science

Have your students explain how they sorted their buttons. Then ask them to write a sentence for each grouping that they made.

Challenge

Help your students use questions that can be answered with a "yes" or "no." Ask, "is it red?" and not "What color is it?"

Bringing It Home

Ask your students what people buy in grocery stores. Ask them how people find what they want. How is the store organized to help its customers? Ask what types of milk there are. What types of foods are made from milk? Have them discuss how the dairy section is organized.

Initiating Questions Levels B-C

1. How are things organized in the classroom?

2. Why are things organized? How does that help?

3. Talk about properties. What properties are used to group things together?

Follow-up Questions Levels B-C

4. Besides your classroom, where else are things grouped?

5. Have students use properties to describe lots of different things.

6. Continue to have students practice grouping things and guessing how things are grouped.

Level B

Main Concept: Classification is putting things together in groups that are similar. Taxonomy is naming things. Scientists classify plants, animals, rocks, and many other things.

DID YOU KNOW??

The author has a beetle named after her--Hoplicnema debrae Pakaluk!

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

We put things into groups,

We put clothes, books, and toys into groups.

Scientists (sci-en-tists) put plants and animals into groups.

This is called classification (clas-si-fi-ca-tion).

Vocabulary

Scientists classify (clas-sif-y) things, Draw lines, Put the letters in the right group, One is done for you.

consonant

vowel

like a vowel

Weekly Lab

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

partner

Can you classify the buttons?

You need: buttons (different colors and sizes).") a plate with 3 parts

Step 1: Put the buttons into the big part of the plate. buttons

Step 2: Group the buttons into the two smaller parts,

Step 3: Can your partner guess how you grouped them?

Step 4: Repeat Steps 1-3, Make new groups this time.

Math

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Color the shapes with 3 sides red. Color the shapes with 4 sides blue.

Writing in Science

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

How did you group your buttons? Write a sentence for each group you made.

Challenge

Find a group of toys and a partner, Think of a question about the toys that can be answered "yes" or "no," Sort the toys into the yes group or the no group, Can your partner guess the question?

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Bringing It Home

You will need an adult to take you to the grocery store, Take paper and pencil, Look at the dairy section, See how things are grouped, Draw a picture of the store, Show how things are grouped.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Vocabulary

Answers:

Circled Group: people, alike, into, different, library, grocery, putting, into, classification

Underlined Group: all remaining words not circled

Weekly Lab

(See Level Pre-A.) After students have separated the buttons into two groups, have them remove one group and repeat the process with the other group, continuing until they have just one button in each small section. You may want to be the one to remove the unneeded buttons.

Math

Give each student a handful of buttons and ask them to pick three characteristics and count how many buttons have each of the characteristics. Then make a bar graph like the one shown in the student level, provided as a sample.

Writing in Science

Encourage your students to be as detailed as they can so that someone could find their button even if it were mixed in with hundreds of other buttons.

Challenge

This game can be played as a whole class or in small groups. Odd-numbered groups work best so that students are sometimes naming objects and sometimes naming properties.

Puzzle

Encourage your students to draw creative but simple creatures.

Level C

Main Concept: Classification is the process of putting similar things together into groups. Scientists classify lots of different things. Taxonomy is the process of naming creatures. Carl Linnaeus developed a naming system that we still use today.

Vocabulary

Answers: botanist--plants; geologist--rocks; zoologist--animals. Classification is putting things into groups. Taxonomy is naming things.

Weekly Lab

Ask your students to put their initial circle near the center top of the page and to try to think of questions that will divide the buttons roughly into halves. The "yes" line goes one way and the "no" line the opposite way. Later, circles may branch off into different directions.

Math

Give each student a handful of buttons and ask them to pick three characteristics (or properties) and count how many buttons have each characteristic. Then ask them to pick a pair of properties and count how many buttons share both properties. Then make a bar graph like the one shown in the student level, as an example.

Writing in Science

Encourage your students to be as detailed as they can so that someone could find their button even if it were mixed in with hundreds of other buttons. Then, mix their button into a large group of others and see if another student can find it.

Puzzle

Answers (left to right): Grumps, Goofy, Yikes

Challenge

Take your students to the library and see if they can figure out the library classification system. Ask students how the system helps them find books that they are interested in.

Initiating Questions Levels D--E

1. How are things organized in your classroom?

2. Where else are things organized?

3. How are living things named?

Follow-up Questions Levels D--E

4. What do scientists classify?

5. How did Linnaeus help scientists classify living things?

6. How are living things organized?

Level D

Main Concept: Classification is the process of putting similar things into groups. Naming different things is called taxonomy. Scientists classify and name lots of different things. Carl Linnaeus developed a system of classification that is still used today. The scientific name includes the genus and the species in Latin.

Vocabulary

Answers: 1) plants; 2) animals; 3) rocks; 4) classification; 5) taxonomy; 6) species

Weekly Lab

Ask your students to put their initial circle near the top center of the page and to try to think of questions that will divide the buttons roughly into halves. The "yes" line goes one way and the "no" line the opposite way. Later, circles may branch off into different directions. After students have guessed each others' questions, have them write the questions into the circles. Remind students that they should complete the procedure until there is only one button in each circle. Due to space limitations, the illustration in the student level may not make this clear.

Math

Answers: Blue Number Groups Divisible by 3 (circled): 9, 6, 21 Divisible by 4 (boxed): 8, 4, 16 Divisible by 5 (underlined): 10, 25

DID YOU KNOW??

There are more beetles in the world than any other species of animals.

DID YOU KNOW??

Carl Linnaeus was the first person to realize that whales are mammals,

DID YOU KNOW??

As a child, Carl Linnaeus was known as the "little botanist" because he liked plants so much.

Bonus:

a) any number that could be put into 2 different groups, above (divided by 2 of the numbers): 12, 15, 24;

b) any number that can be put into all 3 groups, above (divided by all 3 numbers): 60

Writing in Science

Challenge your students to use as many adjectives as possible and to come up with the longest name possible.

Puzzle

Answers (top row, left to right): Grumps, Goofy, Yikes, (bottom row, left to right): Sweetie, Skippy

Level E

Main Concept: Classification is the process of putting similar things into groups. Naming different things is called taxonomy. Using Latin, Carl Linnaeus developed a multi-level classification system that is still used today. The seven main levels of scientific classification are: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species.

Vocabulary

Explain the role of mnemonic devices in helping people memorize things.

Weekly Lab

(See Level D.) Remind students that they should complete the procedure until there is only one button in each circle. When your students name the buttons, encourage them to use a general name first, that reflects the penultimate question, and a species name that reflects a secondary question. Encourage students to be creative and logical in the names they assign. In the illustration in the student level, a naming example is shown using Latin words that have been derived using an online language translator, but this is not necessary.

Math

Most unknown species are invertebrates, including the many insects that live in the canopy of tropical rain forests.

Answers: 1) 100,000 years; 2) 1 million species; 3) 2,740 species a day

Writing in Science

Before beginning, be sure to help your students understand how the CODE KEY works (shown above, right). Each level is a couplet that answers a "yes" or "no" question.

Puzzle

Answers: (top row, left to right): Grumps, Goofy, Yikes (bottom row, left to right): Sweetie, Skippy

When listing characteristics, students can use features listed in the CODE KEY, but they may also notice other characteristics not mentioned.

CODE KEY

1a. Has antenna ... Go to 2.

1b. Does not have antenna ... Go to 4.

2a. Has a nose ... Go to 3.

2b. Does not have a nose ... Yikes

3a. Has square eyes ... Skippy

3b. Does not have square eyes ... Grumps

4a. Has foot pads ... Go to 5.

4b. Does not have foot pads ... Whoops

5a. Has a tongue ... Sweetie

5b. Does not have tongue ... Goofy

Weekly Resources

Helpful Sources for Planning Your Science Weekly Classroom Activities

Recommended Resources

* Anderson, Margaret. Carl Linnaeus, Father of Classification. Enslow Publishers, Inc.: Berkeley Heights, NJ, 1997

* Dunn, Rob. Every Living Thing. Man's Obsessive Quest to Catalog Life, from Nanobacteria to New Monkeys. HarperCollins: New York, NY, 2009

* Orenstein, Ronald. New Animal Discoveries. Millbrook Press: Brookfield, CT, 2001

* Rose, Elizabeth. Classification of Living and Nonliving Things. Fosen Publishing Group, Inc.: New York, NY, 2006

* Stewart, Melissa. Classification of Life. Twenty-First Century Books: Minneapolis, MN, 2008

Internet Resources

www.school.discoverveducation.com

www.accessexcellence.com

www.sciencenetlinks.com

www.teachers.net

DID YOU KNOW??

There are probably many millions of animals yet to be discovered.
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Publication:Science Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 23, 2010
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