My colleague, Jesse Wilcox, presented a lesson to the elementary teachers we are working with tonight to help them understand the relationship between structure and function (NGSS, 4-LS1-1).
He started the lesson by having students observe various organisms that had been preserved and asked students to think about what parts of each organism they find interesting and what do you think these parts do?
As student investigated the organisms, Jesse created a table on the board with three categories: Organism, Part, and What part does. Then, after several minutes of student investigating (all while he was quickly moving from group to group to pose questions and keep students engaged), Jesse had groups of students choose one organism to present and add to the table. To present their organism, one student walked around showing other groups their specimen while another group member explained the parts and what they think the parts do.
If you don’t have access to specimens like those pictured, you could use pictures, or organisms you can collect locally. Maybe even ask the students to collect organisms outside the school (e.g. insects and plants).
After some investigation, Jesse asked the students to talk in their groups about what general conclusions could be made based on the table created. Student ideas included:
- Body parts serve a purpose
- Things have parts that enable survival
- What is an animal’s purpose?
When students tended to focus on animals, he asked, “How could we rephrase these to include plants as well as animals?”