In this unit, students compare the structures and functions of traits that enable organisms to survive in a specific environment. Analyzing the traits of animals provides evidence for how those traits vary, how they are inherited, and how they have changed over time through selection. Students also examine how the environment can affect inherited traits and determine which animals will survive in a particular environment.
In this lesson, students explore how human beings have modified plants based on our knowledge of how plants inherit their traits. In the activity, Odd One Out, students play a game where they guess which fruits are related to each other based on traits of leaves, flowers, and arrangement of seeds. They use this information to understand how humans create fruit varieties by selecting certain traits.
In this lesson, students learn how people create new breeds of animals by mating (selecting) individuals with desirable traits. In the visual activity, Designer Dogs, students are shown pairs of adult dogs and three potential puppies. They study the physical traits of the dogs and look for the puppy that shares these traits.
In this lesson, students learn about an example of how nature, not human beings, can slowly change the appearance of an animal using the process of selection. In the activity, Lizard Island, students simulate how natural selection affects a group of tree-climbing green lizards when their island is invaded by hungry brown lizards. This simulation only works for groups of 16 or more students. If you have a smaller group, use the Small Group Version of this activity found in Prep Instructions.
If you have a smaller group (between 1 to 15 students), you need to use the Small Group Version of this activity. This version has step-by-step activity instructions on the printout. The step-by-step in the lesson can be used for groups of 16+ students.
Don’t Throw Away Extra Adopt A Lizard Cards
There are three types of lizards in the activity simulation -- Not-So-Good Climbers, Good Climbers, and Excellent Climbers. It’s important that the simulation begins with an equal number of these lizard types. So, if the number of students in your classroom isn’t divisible by 3 (e.g. 28 students), then you will have a few extra Adopt A Lizard Cards printed out. Have students who finish quickly fill out these extra Adopt A Lizard cards.
Prep Baby Lizard Cards
Each student needs a half sheet of the Baby Lizard Cards. Cut each Baby Lizard page in half before class.
In this lesson, students discover why dogs’ expressions, like tail wagging, are so useful when living in a pack. In the activity, Field Journal, students watch videos of different animals that live in groups to simulate observing them in their natural habitats. They discuss and record their observations, and construct an explanation of how living in groups helps these animals survive.
In this lesson, students examine how physical traits can be influenced by the environment. In the activity, Astronaut-in-Training, students analyze how a NASA astronaut’s traits changed during his “year in space.” Then they measure some of their physical traits (arm strength, height, and balance) and predict how their own traits might change after living in space.