Atlas Moths and Walking Sticks and Frog-legged Beetles, Oh My!
My students need microscope slides of real specimens to observe in lab, along with mounted insects (Atlas Moth, Frog Legged Leaf Beetles, Walking Stick) to analyze during our Natural Selection and Adaptations unit.
Hooray! This project is fully funded
Hooray! This project is fully funded
My students are fun-loving, enthusiastic scientists ready to take their learning to new levels! Our population is made up of a diverse group of learners from Brooklyn, NY, including ENL students and special education students.
My goal is to continue multi-modal, project-based learning in my classroom, where my students perform their own scientific research, build models, innovate solutions to the world's most pressing problems, and use their knowledge of coding to enhance their presentations.
My students are some of the most creative young minds I have ever met, and are always ecstatic at the start of any new project I introduce to them. It is most important that my students understand how to apply what they are learning in the classroom to the real world, and so we analyze case studies after each unit (for example, analyzing Hurricane Sandy during our Weather and Atmosphere unit, or The Fukashima meltdown during our Nuclear Power unit) and then conduct research on their own in order to evaluate where our curriculum fits into the real world.
There's nothing more that my students love than working with manipulatives in lab or in the classroom. The mini insect toys will be used during our classification lab, where students will work to identify organisms using a dichotomous key. Eventually, they will draft their very own dichotomous keys using REAL specimens! This project will allow my students to not only observe and analyze real, mounted insect specimens in order to better understand how these diverse creatures came to evolve, but also to make inferences about the adaptive advantages of their physical features. Many students struggle to understand Natural Selection as a process by which favorable mutations lead to increased fitness, that is, ability to survive and reproduce. My students are currently learning about how different gene mutations proved beneficial to certain organisms, therefore helping those genes get passed down into the next generation.
This project will, as one example, allow my students to observe a real Atlas moth-an insect that has wings that mimic the appearance of a snake!
Students will make inferences about how this freak mutation ended up being favorable to the moth. Can you guess how?! Well, birds (the moth's natural predator) will now avoid eating the moth due to fear of being eaten themselves by the seemingly dangerous "snake" (a bird's natural predator). The moth's mutation was therefore beneficial to it, allowing it to survive and go on to reproduce, effectively transferring the gene for this physical feature to the next generation. Eventually, the entire population ended up with the gene, and BADA-BING, EVOLUTION OCCURRED!
There truly is no better way to learn these crucial concepts than with real organisms, and my students' engagement working with them will be undoubtedly heightened. I hope you will consider helping us fund this project!
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