Reflection: Developing a Conceptual Understanding Building a Bigger Arthropod - Section 3: Student Activity: Comparative Dissection (Bumble Bee, Grasshopper, Crayfish)

 

I think it is very important that my students dissect actual specimens for several reasons.  First, they need to see the diversity within a species.  That can only be done by having students looks at multiple specimens.  In every species, there are natural variation due to genetic diversity.  Students may fail to notice that natural diversity and its importance if they do not dissect.  It is also important for my kinesthetic learners to physically touch and manipulate the specimen. It is how they learn best.  Students need to be able to see and touch the different textures of the organs in the specimen.  Spatially, they need to notice how everything nest with the organism's body cavity.  These are all things that are missing from a virtual dissection.  With some classes, I still will use a virtual dissection.  However, I always couple it with dissection of an actual organism.  

I do need to mention one final note about these dissections. For large classes, one may spend three to four days dissecting these organisms. Because I only have a class of four this year, we have moved through the curriculum quickly. One of the most challenging aspect of a small class is to provide them enough meaningful work in every class period. As class size increases, I find that less work gets done during the period. With my larger classes, we spend a day dissecting the bee, another day dissecting the crayfish, and a third day dissecting the grasshopper. Student groups that finish the daily dissections more quickly than their peers work quietly on the webquest as it can also take some students multiple days to complete.  

  Why my classes dissect real specimens.
  Developing a Conceptual Understanding: Why my classes dissect real specimens.
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Building a Bigger Arthropod

Unit 11: Invertebrates
Lesson 7 of 12

Objective: Students will compare and contrast the body structures of arthropods in order to determine if gigantic ants could live on Earth.

Big Idea: Is the monster movie Them plausible? Could building size ants truly exist? Find out today.

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Subject(s):
natural selection (Evolution), Science, patterns (Data Characteristics), modeling, Common Ancestors, cause and effect, adaptation, Obtaining and Communicating Information, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Biological Evolution, Biotic and Abiotic Factors
  71 minutes
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