Curriculum

What Explains Similarities and Differences Between Organisms?

What Explains Similarities and Differences Between Organisms?

What Explains Similarities and Differences Between Organisms? is part of Smithsonian Science for the Classroom, a brand new curriculum series by the Smithsonian Science Education Center. It is aligned to a group of grade 3 standards. It has a focus on life science with a secondary focus on Earth and space science. In this module, students:

  • Make observations of variation in traits in Wisconsin Fast Plants and analyze data for patterns of inheritance
  • Collaboratively plan, carry, out and analyze the results of fair tests to see the effect of environmental variables on plant traits
  • Analyze average temperature and precipitation data for a range of cities to uncover patterns of climate zones
  • Develop a model the represents the stages common to all organisms’ life cycles
  • Analyze data from a study on how bees’ preference for certain flower colors gives plants a reproductive advantage
  • Construct an explanation for why guppies in some streams are bright orange while others are dull

Below are digital resources that support teaching of this module.

Lesson 1: Alike and Different

Alike and Different
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This file contains photos of individuals within a species that differ from each other in a variety of ways.

What I Already Know
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This file contains photos of two different horses and a map of rainfall totals in Washington State.

Biodiversity Coloring Book
https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/collection/ColorOurCollections
This link leads to a coloring book featuring organisms from the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Locate “The Birds of Australia” and “Les Orchidees.”

Lesson 2: A Family Portrait

Condors in Pinnacles National Park
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This video shows condors soaring with outstretched wings over Pinnacles National Park.

Sample Pedigree
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This file contains a sample pedigree that shows the pattern of inheritance for a particular trait.

Lesson 3: Plants Have Parents, Too

Smithsonian Zoo News
http://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/news
This website provides articles about the animals at the National Zoo. Scroll through the articles or use the search function to find articles about parents and offspring.

Lesson 4: Nature and Nurture

Environmental Factors
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This video shows several environmental factors that could affect plant growth, including rain, sun, snow, wind, and nutrients.

Lesson 5: Pen Pal Plants

Temperature Guide
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This file provides descriptive terms for a set of temperature and precipitation conditions.

Lesson 6: Pack Your Bags!

Average Temperature Graph for Washington DC
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This bar graph shows the average summer temperature in Washington, DC from 1998-2017.

Summer Temperature and Precipitation Guides
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This file provides descriptive terms for a set of summer temperature and precipitation conditions.

Map of North American Cities
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This map shows the boundaries of countries and states in North America, as well as the location of 16 cites.

North American Koppen Climate Zones
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This map of North America uses color to show the range of climate zones, as well as the location of 16 cities.

Lesson 7: Fair Weather Fronds

Saguaro Range Map
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This map displays where the saguaro cactus grows in North America.

Sugar Maple Range Map
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This map displays where the sugar maple grows in North America.

White Oak Range Map
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This map displays where the white oak tree grows in North America.

Tilted Trees
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These images show two trees that are growing at a sharp sideways angle because of constant wind.

Lesson 8: Plant Patterns

Alike and Different
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This file contains photos of individuals within a species that differ from each other in a variety of ways.

Radish Plant Video
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This video shows several radish plant seedlings emerging from the soil and extending their cotyledons (the seed leaves).

Lesson 9: Animal Stories

Monarch Life Cycle Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OM-ptuFr-zc
This narrated video from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service shows an adult monarch emerging from a chrysalis and hanging upside-down as its wings expand with fluid.

Lesson 11: Busy Bees

Bumblebee
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This video shows bumblebees interacting with flowers.

Lesson 12: Snapdragon Science

Snapdragon Study
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This collection of photos shows bumblebees, snapdragon flowers, and the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.

Bumblebee on Snapdragon
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This video shows a bumblebee backing out of a snapdragon after collecting nectar.

Lesson 13: Tricky Traits

Camouflage
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This file contains photos of organisms camouflaged within their environment.

Mouse Investigation
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This illustration shows how the light and dark mice look against a sand and a soil environment.

Lesson 14: Guppy Mystery – Part 1

Trinidadian Streams and Guppies
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This file contains a map of Trinidad and Tobago, and photos of the field site, scientists at work, and the guppies in the study.

Field Site with Dull Guppies
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This video goes underwater to show guppies swimming in a stream.

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