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This lesson helps students understand specialized structure and variation.
This lesson helps students understand specialized structure and variation. These terms are very similar in that specialized structures often vary across a species to accommodate different environments. This can be confusing to students. Use this lesson to solidify these two terms and their differences.
Discuss how specialized structures and variations help species survive in their environments. Point out the obvious creatures such as lions, cheetahs, giraffes, bears, and others that have obvious specialized structures. Write the names of two similar species on the board and have groups analyze them using Venn Diagrams for specialized structures. Then analyze the specialized structures based on variations from environment to environment.
To follow up, discuss humans and how we have many specialized structures that aren’t so glamorous or exciting, but help us survive just the same. Using cooperative learning groups, students investigate specialized structures that humans have and tell how they help us survive in our environment. Each group presents what they think is the most important specialized structure on their list.
As a conclusion, discuss each of the specialized structures and decide if they might have variations in different species of animals.
1. Use Science Process and Thinking Skills
3. Understand Science Concepts and Principles
Invitation to Learn
Ask for two volunteers to come up for an experiment. Wrap their hands with a few rounds of masking tape so that their thumb is immobile. Have them play a game of Tic-Tac-Toe on the board. The trick is to write without the use of their hands. After expected laughter and giggles, calm students down, take the tape off, and ask them to go ahead and play. When they are finished, ask how it felt not have use of their thumb. They probably didn’t realize how important their thumb really was until then. Introduce the lesson with discussion about specialized structures. You may also incorporate a survival item such as opening a peanut for food.
ESL and Special Needs Learners
Gifted and Talented
Have students create and take home a matching game of two similar species and the specialized structure that they share. It could be played like Go Fish. Twenty sets of animals is sufficient. Students tell the variation in the specialized structure for each animal when they get a correct match in order to keep their cards.
Give the students paper with pictures of a pair of similar animals in the same species. Have them construct a Venn Diagram showing their specialized structures and fill in the variations that go along with each. Give at least five answers in each part of the Venn Diagram. On the bottom of the sheet, explain why there are variations in specialized structures. They should be able to tell you that it is due to the different environmental needs for survival.