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Nuts and bolts classification: Arbitrary or not? (Grades 6-8)

Students work in teams, classify furniture, share categories/rationales, and note how their different schemes are logical and useful, but vary and are completely arbitrary. They then see how living organisms are classified and note how these natural groupings reflect the same ancestral relationships in the same nested hierarchies. The concept is exemplified using primate phylogenetic trees.

Students work in teams, classify furniture, share categories/rationales, and note how their different schemes are logical and useful, but vary and are completely arbitrary. They then see how living organisms are classified and note how these natural groupings reflect the same ancestral relationships in the same nested hierarchies. The concept is exemplified using primate phylogenetic trees.

Nuts and bolts classification: Arbitrary or not?: Grades 6-8

Nuts and bolts classification: Arbitrary or not?: Grades 6-8

Author/Source:  ENSI (via Understanding Evolution)

Overview: Students working in teams classify furniture, share their categories and rationales, then note how their different schemes are perfectly logical and useful, but they vary and are completely arbitrary. They then see how living organisms are classified, and note how these natural groupings reflect the same ancestral relationships in the same nested hierarchies, regardless of the different criteria used. This concept is exemplified using primate phylogenetic trees.

Concepts: This lesson covers the following concepts:

  • Anatomical similarities of living things reflect common ancestry.
  • Classification is based on evolutionary relationships.
  • Evolutionary relationships may be explored on branching cladograms.
Grade Level: 6-8

Time: 40 minutes

Teacher Background: Explore these links for additional information on the topics covered in this lesson:
Resource Type: 
Lesson plan