Grades 9-12 ActivitiesUse these activities to help your class investigate mammals' evolutionary relationships and the role that environment plays in adaptation and distribution. These activities and the Student Worksheet can be adapted to meet your students' interests and abilities.
BEFORE YOUR VISIT
New York State Science Core CurriculumOnline Activity: Have students read this essay about cladistics. Ask them how the cladistic method helps us understand how all organisms are related. Ask students to explain the different parts of a cladogram (evolutionary tree), including nodes and branches.
Performance Indicator 3.1
Explain the mechanisms and patterns of evolution;
Major Understandings 3.1g and 3.1h
Activity: Download the "Making Cladograms" PDF and distribute it along with the required materials. Students will use coins to explore the concept of grouping organisms based on shared characteristics.
DURING YOUR VISITIN THE EXTREME MAMMALS EXHIBITION
Use the activities and guiding questions in Sections 1 and 2 of Teaching in the Exhibition in the Guide to help students develop their understanding of how scientists classify and define mammals. Refer to Section 10 for strategies to help your students explore the Extreme Extinction section.
NOTE: Students can use the worksheet linked at the top of this page, to further explore these concepts. Provide your students with a copy of the Map of the Exhibition to help them find locations in Extreme Mammals.
IN THE WALLACE WING OF MAMMALS AND THEIR EXTINCT RELATIVES (Fourth Floor)
As a class, watch the large screen video in the Orientation Center on the fourth floor. Ask students:
BACK IN THE CLASSROOMClass Discussion: Have students refer to the cladogram on the Student Worksheet. Ask students to explain why Ambulocetus is classified as a member of the hooved animal group Artiodactyla, even though it doesn't have hooves. What does this tell them about the way scientists classify animals?
Class Discussion: Based on their exploration of the Extreme Extinction section of the exhibition, prompt students to think of ways that major climate change has affected the diversity of mammals. How is one mammal, Homo sapiens, contributing to current extinctions?