You can start this unit with a teacher led anchor phenomenon. Turn On to add a new opening lesson, a new section to each lesson below, and a performance task ending the unit.
Note: If this is your first Mystery Science unit we recommend leaving this off. Turning this on will lengthen each lesson and require leading your students in open-ended science discussions.
In this unit, students begin to develop an understanding of the world's animal biodiversity. They explore animal classification and the traits that define each group. Students then turn their focus to habitats and how the surrounding environment affects what organisms live in a particular environment.
This summative assessment is a combination of short response and fill-in-the-blank questions
intended to be administered at the end of this unit. It should take about 25 minutes for a
student to complete.
In this lesson, students examine how scientists organize animals into groups based on their characteristics. In the activity, Animals Sorting Game, students study animal traits and use these traits to sort animal cards into mammals, birds, reptiles, and invertebrates. Students are then challenged to make decisions about animals that don’t fall neatly into any of those categories.
We suggest students work in pairs. Homeschool students can work on their own.
When you set up your classroom, note that students will need to alternate between doing their work and watching two short videos that are part of the activity.
Prepare Challenge Cards
Each pair of students will need a set of Challenge Cards. Each copy of this printout has two sets of cards, so we recommend you cut these in half prior to class for easy distribution to pairs of students.
This is a NEW lesson we are BETA testing! If you prepped before 11/4/21 or if you have a Mystery Pack, you'll need to gather the supplies listed below.
In this lesson, students solve the mystery of why a group of wild bighorn sheep would leave their usual desert habitat to visit a second, very different habitat: a local playground. In the activity, Habitat Scavenger Hunt, students record observations of the diversity of life found in the desert and the playground, as well as the physical characteristics of each location. Students combine these observations to create an understanding of how the living and non-living parts of a habitat support the animals that live there.
Since there’s so little prep for this lesson, we suggest you consider extending this lesson by having your students perform their own Habitat Scavenger Hunt in two different locations at your school site.
Instructions for this extension can be found here.
This lesson is a case study in biodiversity using the frogs of North America. In the activity, Who's Calling?, students learn to identify frogs by their unique calls and investigate which of two locations has a greater variety of frogs. After listening to recordings of frog calls, students create words that will remind them of the sounds, and then use those words to identify frog sounds in different environments.
In this lesson, students investigate which kinds of birds are likely to visit a bird feeder based on what they eat. In the activity, Design a Bird Feeder, students first draw their own bird feeder design to attract a specific type of bird. Then they build a prototype of their bird feeder using available materials.
Each student will create their own bird feeder, but we suggest students work in pairs to share ideas. Homeschool students can work on their own.
Plan Your Time
Part 1 (designing a bird feeder) takes 15 to 20 minutes. Part 2 (building the prototype) can take up to 30 minutes.
You may want to divide this lesson into two sessions, stopping after Part 1 and continuing with Part 2 at a later point. If you plan to do the activity in two sessions, building the bird feeder begins at Step 7.
Check the Recycling Bin
We encourage you to raid your recycling bin for building supplies. You can use materials you find there to substitute or supplement our list of supplies.
Prepare Aluminum Foil and Dot Stickers
Tear aluminum foil into 6” squares so that you have enough for each student.
We suggest providing each student with 8 dot stickers. You can divide these up before class for easier distribution.
Buy Some Bird Seed (Optional)
If you would like to add bird seed to students’ prototype feeders, you'll need to buy a bag. Be warned: spilled bird seed can be messy. Student prototype bird feeders may not be sturdy enough to actually put outside and use.
Engineering Teacher Tip
We created the Bird Feeder Inspiration printout for students who may be stumped or frustrated by the task of making a bird feeder. We suggest letting students first try to come up with ideas on their own, providing these Inspiration printouts only to those who need extra guidance.
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