This activity is a hands-on project that meets the Next Generation Science Standard for third grade: 3-LS4-2 (Use evidence to construct an explanation for how the variations in characteristics among individuals of the same species may provide advantages in surviving, finding mates, and reproducing) and 3-LS4-4 (Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change). This project also includes several Engineering Standards as well: 3-5-ETS1-1 (Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost) and 3-5-ETS1-2 (Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem).
Students experiment with different adaptations on an animal to decide which adaptations will help the animal survive best. Working in groups, students will design one of five different environments. From there, they will be given five copies of the same “animal.” They will have to decide which adaptations would help the animal survive in each environment, all the while staying on budget – adaptations must be purchased. This project helps reinforce not only science content and math skills, but also is a great problem solving and collaborative experience.