This problem solving activity teaches students how to build a cladogram and reinforces the important concepts of cladograms and cladistics to your biology or life science students in grades 8-12. I use this activity when teaching my unit on classification and taxonomy, but it would also be appropriate to use during your lessons on evolution and natural selection.
What is cladistics?
Cladistics is one of the newest trends in the modern classification of organisms. It shows the relationship between different organisms based on the presence or absence of characteristics called derived characters. In this activity, students will look at pictures of 7 different animals to determine if they possess certain derived characters. This data will then be used to build a cladogram.
Your download will include handouts that are ready to be copied and passed out to your students. The handouts will contain Introduction, Purpose, Materials, Procedure, Data Table, and Follow-Up Questions.
This product comes with a student-friendly explanation of cladistics and definitions of key terms related to cladistics. Pictures of 7 different organisms are also included. The 4 page student worksheet leads them through the process of making observations, completing a data table, and using this data to complete the cladogram. There are 19 follow up questions, and complete answer key for the teacher.
Not only does this activity teach cladistics, but it reinforces the skills of observation, problem solving, analysis, and critical thinking.
This activity was written for my high school Biology I class, but is also appropriate for middle school students. You will receive both a pdf file and a Word document so that you can make changes to it to suit your needs. Please note: Student handouts are editable, but the images used in this resource are not editable.
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