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The CD Store

Imagine your favorite song. Now imagine going to the store to buy a recording of the song. As you enter the store, you ask the clerk where you can find the CD containing the song. The clerk points to a very large pile of CDs. The pile is about the width of a city block and the height of a skyscraper. It contains a CD of every song ever made. How long will it take you to dig through this pile and find your CD? You may find it quickly, or you could spend the rest of your life looking for it and never find it. Wouldn’t it be easier if you knew where to look? Stores usually group or classify CDs by type of music and by artist so that it will be easy for customers to find what they are looking for. If you know which CD you want, you should be able to locate it quickly in a well-organized store.
Finding a CD in a store can be compared to a scientist finding information about something like a living thing, or a rock, or a planet. Scientists also classify things to make it easier to find information about them. Scientists use classification to make order or sense out of a chaotic natural world. If scientists have a classification system, they can look up and study what interests them very quickly. If they learn something new, they can add it to the current knowledge in an organized way so that the next scientist who is interested can find it using the classification system.

Congratulations, your Uncle Fester has just willed you his CD collection!

Using what you know about classification, see if you can arrange these CDs into similar groups to make them easier for your customers to find. Make a list of four groups into which these CDs can be classified.

Leann Rhimes Garth Brooks The Beatles Brittany Spears
Mozart J.S. Bach NSync Dixie Chicks
Rolling Stones Elvis Presley Christina Agulara Beach Boys
Beethoven Tchaikovsky Faith Hill Backstreet Boys
When you have grouped these CDs, highlight the table below to compare your list with a possible grouping.
Group 1
Group 2
Group 3
Group 4
Dixie Chicks The Beatles Backstreet Boys Beethoven
Faith Hill Beach Boys Brittany Spears J.S. Bach
Garth Brooks Elvis Presley Christina Agulara Mozart
Leann Rhimes Rolling Stones NSync Tchaikovsky


  1. How did your grouping compare to the example that was given?
    • In which groups did you have the same artists?
  2. How are the music groups different than they might have been if a student had done this assignment over 40 years ago?

Over time music artists have changed the style or way music has been played. These changes have led to different music styles. Some people like most every type of music, while there are other people who do not like all types of music.

Just like music, scientific information has changed over time. Based on different information, the way things are classified has changed. Typically, new scientific information has helped scientists be more accurate in the way things are classified. At one point scientists thought all living things were either plant or animal. Since then we have learned about many other things. Based on the idea of only these two groups, where would you place bacteria? As scientists learn more about life on Earth, it is possible that there may be more changes in classification in your lifetime. Be prepared that changes in science usually come as new information is acquired. Perhaps you may be the person who discovers the important piece of scientific knowledge which will change how classification is done!

Review science safety rules here.

Get the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader , and Get Quicktime Player. (The Quicktime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 7th grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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