Okay, without making too much of a disturbance, look up and study the
people that are around you right now. After about two minutes, quietly
take out a sheet of paper, and make five observations about the physical
features (hair color, eye color, height, etc.) of five people. (This
assignment is not to be used to make fun of people!) When you are done,
make five observations about yourself. Did any one have exactly the same
features? Unless your subjects included identical twins, the answer to
this question is probably - no.
There are many different types of plants, animals, and people on this
planet. We call this diversity or biodiversity. Scientists classify (divide)
them into certain groups or categories based on how they are alike.
Even though animals are diverse, they are also the same
in many ways. If you look at your classmates again, do you notice things
that are alike? There are many things that make you the same, so scientists
have classified you into the same "group". You are humans,
and you are also mammals.
We use classification systems in our everyday lives. Do you put your
socks in the refrigerator? Of course not! You put your socks in a specific
place in your room. In fact, you have specific places for a lot of stuff
in your room. Therefore, you have a classification system for your room.
(At least most of you do.)
You're the scientist!
Classification systems help us to make sense of the variety of things
in our world. These systems are made by humans. They are usually based
on physical similarities and chemical relationships between things.
Try this classification activity.
- Remove everything from your desk.
- Sort the material from your desk into categories based on how they
are similar or work together.
- List the groups that you have made.
- Explain your classification system. (Why did you group your materials
the way you did?)
You can also try this activity at your desk.
Collect pictures of insects and cut them out.
- Group them by their similarities and differences.
- Give a name to each of your groups.
- Explain your method of grouping. (Why did you place certain insects
in the groups that you did? )
- Can some of the insects be members of more than one group? Explain.
Scientists have already helped us classify Earth's animals and plants
into categories. I'll bet you already know some of these groups. Look
at the chart below and see what you already know. Do you know where your
pet iguana fits in?