|Molly Shaw & Luke Webb
New Brighton Middle School
|6th Grade||One week or more|
How can we use fossil evidence to compare modern and ancient humans?
- Apply scientific ideas, principles, and/or evidence to construct, revise and/or use an explanation for real-world phenomena, examples, or events.
- Identify anatomical similarities and differences between various organisms living today and between them and organisms in the fossil record, enable the reconstruction of evolutionary history and the inference of lines of evolutionary descent.
- Observe patterns of forms and events guide organization and classification, and they prompt questions about relationships and the factors that influence them.
- Recognize what is relevant at different measures of size, time, and energy and to recognize how changes in scale, proportion, or quantity affect a system’s structure or performance.
Students will begin a class reading to analyze together. We will also use videos to introduce the lesson.
Student will work together in lab groups to study 3D printed human fossils.
Science: Students will be looking at fossils of humans.
Technology | Engineering: Student will be using 3D printed models, they will understand the printing process, and the meaning of “hands-on” and accessible.
Mathematics: Students will be using measurement tools for data collection.
- Formative assessments: Identification of the different species.
- Summative assessment(s): A mystery jaw will be printed out from one more early-human species and the students will be asked to place it in the evolutionary timeline based on their understanding of the printed fossils they studied.
Our lab meets the following criteria:
KEY KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING, AND SUCCESS SKILLS The project is focused on teaching students key knowledge and understanding derived from standards, and success skills including critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, and self-management.
Challenging Problem or Question The project is based on a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge for students, which is operationalized by an open-ended, engaging driving question.
Sustained Inquiry The project involves an active, in-depth process over time, in which students generate questions, find and use resources, ask further questions, and develop their own answers.
Authenticity The project has a real-world context, uses real-world processes, tools, and quality standards, makes a real impact, and/or is connected to students’ own concerns, interests, and identities.
Reflection The project provides opportunities for students to reflect on what and how they are learning, and on the project’s design and implementation.
Critique & Revision The project includes processes for students to give and receive feedback on their work, in order to revise their ideas and products or conduct further inquiry.
Public Product The project requires students to demonstrate what they learn by creating a product that is presented or offered to people beyond the classroom.
PART 1: Introduction
Students become familiar with Turkana Boy (H. erectus), who may have been as young as 8 years old. My students are 10 – 12 years old, and they immediately seem to feel protective of this younger child as they get to learn more about his life. To learn about Turkana Boy, we watch the NOVA documentary “Becoming Human, Part 2” in short segments over 4 or 5 days, drawing illustrations, writing questions, taking short notes, and discussing our growing knowledge as a class. We compare our 3D print of Turkana Boy’s skull with Taung Child’s skull. Taung Child is another skull we have discussed in class, so the students are familiar with what we know about his life story.
www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/becoming-human.html#becoming-human-part-2 (May be available on YouTube)
PART 2: Context
I draw this cladogram for the students under the document camera while they copy the diagram in their notes. The earliest we go back in our diagram is A. afarensis. As we list each species, I tell brief background stories. We write “Turkana Boy” under H. erectus and “Taung Child” under A. africanus. Source: http://darwiniana.org/trees.htm
Part 3: Skull Analysis
Students are given a full set of half-size skulls to measure. Each print has a number written on it, and the students already know that skulls #2 and #3 are Taung Boy (A. africanus) and Turkana Boy (H. erectus), respectively. We create a data chart that looks like this:
Data Sheet Example
Students measure each skull and choose one or two skulls to create full-size scale drawings of, doubling their measured dimensions. Our art teacher has included lessons on scaled drawings and on drawing skulls in the 6th grade art curriculum, so by the end of the year when my 6th graders study skulls in our science class, all will have had this art instruction.
Students try to identify the skulls in the set. I then provide the key to the skulls’ identities, and the chart is filled out completely.
Part 4: Argumentation
H. naledi is a recently discovered Homo species. Students are asked to create an argument based on skull morphology where they think H. naledi falls in the hominid evolution cladogram, above. Student groups present their arguments to the class with any additional data they have collected in their online research. I present this diagram:
to show current thinking by paleontologists where H. naledi might be placed in human evolutionary models.
NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS (NGSS)
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Connection to Lesson
|Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships. MS-LS4-2||Coming soon!|
Science & Engineering Practices
Connection to Lesson
|Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions: Apply scientific ideas, principles, and/or evidence to construct, revise and/or use an explanation for real-world phenomena, examples, or events.||Coming soon!|
Disciplinary Core Ideas
Connection to Lesson
|LS4.A: Evidence of Common Ancestry and Diversity: Anatomical similarities and differences between various organisms living today and between them and organisms in the fossil record, enable the reconstruction of evolutionary history and the inference of lines of evolutionary descent.||Coming soon!|
Connection to Lesson
|Patterns: Patterns. Observed patterns of forms and events guide organization and classification, and they prompt questions about relationships and the factors that influence them.
Scale, proportion, and quantity: In considering phenomena, it is critical to recognize what is relevant at different measures of size, time, and energy and to recognize how changes in scale, proportion, or quantity affect a system’s structure or performance.
COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS (CCSS)
CCSS Connections for Math
Convert units across measurement systems (e.g., inches to cm)
Statistical distributions: mean, median, mode, range
CCR Reading Anchor
#1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
RST.6-8.1: “…support analysis of science and technical texts.”
RST.9-10.1: “…support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions.”
RST.11-12.1: “…support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account.”
ISTE Standards for Students
Creativity and Innovation
- Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues.
- Identify trends and forecast possibilities.
ISTE Standards for Teachers
Model digital age work and learning
- Demonstrate fluency in technology systems and the transfer of current knowledge to new technologies and situations b. Collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources
Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.
RESOURCES & MATERIALS
- Calipers and measuring tape
- Paper, notepads, pencils
- 3D printed models
Suggested 3D Models
This virtual lab showcases a spectacular collection of fossils and artifacts found mostly at Lake Turkana in East Africa. The digital collection of animals, human ancestors, as well as ancient stone tools offers a unique tool for scholars and enthusiasts to explore and interact with the collection online. It also provides an opportunity to download models for 3-D printing as well as to comment and share images of your favorite printed fossil objects on our forum. Once you create a username and password through africanfossils.org, you can download STL files.
Thingiverse is very user friendly. Even though there many models that are not scientific or have been scanned from an actual specimen, the ease of printing makes it worthwhile to explore.
Morphosource is an excellent site for fossils. This site required one extra step. The files are not STL, and most 3D printers will use STL files. Most of the files will be on PLY format, but there is an easy way to convert. 1) Download the open source software, MeshLab to convert the files to STL. 2) From MeshLab, import your PLY file, and then export as STL (Binary).
KEY ACADEMIC AND/OR SCIENTIFIC LANGUAGE