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Essential Arthropods

Module Summary
Arthropods are an abundant, inexpensive resource that is available to every educator.  This unit utilizes arthropods as a tool to teach multiple scientific principles to students. In the first activity, students examine pictures of arthropods from multiple phyla and learn to classify organisms using dichotomous keys.  For the next activity, students are provided with a selection of locally collected insects.  Students identify shared characteristics among specimens and utilize these to build a phylogenetic tree.  Then, students have the opportunity to build a phylogenetic tree using actual DNA sequences from mosquitoes.  Students are given a short introduction to bioinformatics, then use computers and online databases to find similar DNA sequences and build a phylogenetic tree based on genetic similarities.  At the conclusion of the unit, students are taught molecular techniques used by biologists. Using this knowledge, students explore how scientists use DNA technology to identify individuals, analyze evidence, and solve crimes.

Grade Levels

Module Materials (view or download)
Invertebrate Dichotomous Keys
Building an Insect Phylogeny
Mosquito Bioinformatics
Hissing Cockroach Murder Mystery: Who killed Fabio?

Module Activity Overview Estimated Class Time
Invertebrate Dichotomous Keys 1 (45 min) class
Building an Insect Phylogeny 2 (45 min) classes
Mosquito Bioinformatics 1 (45 min) class
Hissing Cockroach Murder Mystery: Who killed Fabio? 3 (45 min) classes




Last updated: 3/10/2015