Students will watch a short film about the Cambrian Explosion and the extraordinary fossils of the Burgess Shale. Students will address preconceptions and misconceptions about early Cambrian life, and complete a timeline activity that will enable them to better appreciate just how recently - relatively speaking - multicellular life evolved on Earth.
Students are introduced to the concept of taxonomy, and categorization of organisms based on Carl Linnaeus' system of classification. The class watches the Taxonomy video from shapeoflife.org and reviews the concept of classification. Students then "classify" themselves. Then, the class is divided into groups to begin classifying themselves. Along the way, students are researching their classification level, and recording derived characteristics that separate them from other groups within that level.
Students watch the Cambrian Explosion video (https://www.shapeoflife.org/video/cambrian-explosion), construct personal and Earth timelines, and begin to explore the scale of time embodied in Earth's history.
Students explore the Cambrian Explosion and other major Earth events, construct a scale for Earth's history and sequence some of Earht's major events along a timeline. Students consider what evidence exists for these events and then compare Earth's history to schoolyard and personal history.
Students investigate how, through the process of evolution, animals have solved their engineering problems and how people have mimicked those natural solutions.
Students will investigate the tracks and traces left by modern animals and determine what they can learn about an animal from its tracks. Then students will consider what it takes to be a hunter and what kind of evidence can be used to figure out what animal was the first hunter. Discussion questions included.
Students assess evolutionary links and evidence from comparative analysis of the fossil record and modern day organisms. Using the information about the Cambrian Explosion, they explore theories about how and why organisms divesrsified then hypothesize what evidence might be helpful to connect fossil organisms to show evolutionary connections.
Students first examine the bodies and behavior of live slugs or snails, then use water balloons to model their unique style of locomotion, and finally tackle a series of analytical questions designed to cultivate a grasp of divergent evolution.