What Animal Subgroup Do I Belong to? A Twenty Questions Game

Written by Kelly A. Hogan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Learning Outcomes:

– To practice classifying animals based the animal phyla and subgroup characteristics

– To demonstrate a fun way to work with a large amount of classifying information

Activity Description: This is a 20 questions guessing game that can be adapted to various topics and can be limited to less than 20 questions if the scope is narrow. It can be used as a whole class activity with the instructor choosing an animal or in student pairs.

Time Needed: One round can be played in about 10 minutes, but students would benefit from playing many rounds and taking turns as the questioner.

Materials Needed: None

Activity Instructions: Student A (or instructor) thinks of an animal and then writes down the classification information and characteristics about this animal. Student B (or several students) asks questions in which the answer can only be yes/no or sometimes/usually/rarely. Students should be encouraged to ask at least five questions before guessing the phylum or more specific subgroup. Student questions must be questions about characteristics. When student B thinks he/she knows the complete answer he/she must say, “By golly biology, I think I’ve got it!” The student should then state the animal AND the phylum it belongs to.

An example:

Do you have a backbone? (Yes)

Are you ectothermic? (Yes)

Do you use external fertilization? (Yes)

Do you have fins? (No)

Do you have bony limbs? (Yes)

Do you have a tail? (No)

Are you a frog or toad? (Yes)

“By golly, biology, I think I’ve got it!” Are you a frog from Phyla Chordata? (Subphyla vertebrata, Class Amphibian?)

This game forces all involved to actively engage with applying content that many students find dull and overwhelming. If your students need some help to get going, you may choose to put up a list of characteristics that they can choose from such as:

Radial symmetry, bilateral symmetry, backbone, external skeleton, ectothermic, endothermic, internal fertilization, external fertilization, amniotic eggs, scales, hair, segmentation, aquatic, etc.

A Chance Discovery of Endosymbiosis? A Case Study

Written by Kelly A. Hogan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Learning Outcomes:

– To demonstrate evolution in action based on famous endosymbiosis experiments by Kwang Jeon

– To appreciate how scientific discovery is sometimes accidental

– To explore Lynn Margulis’s theory of endosymbiosis and the differences between prokaryotes and eukaryotes

Activity Description: A short case study about two graduate students is used to explore how an accidental bacterial infection in eukaryotic cells can lead to a case of endosymbiosis. Students are asked to research the endosymbiosis theory and think about the evidence to support it. Students should either come to class ready for discussion after completing the activity or time can be given in class to allow students to research with their books and the Internet.

Time Needed: 50 minutes if given time to discuss and research in class (less if students have completed the questions on their own before discussion)

Materials Needed: Internet for student research. Students should be able to compile the information they need from their book and a single website: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/endosymbiosis_01

Activity Instructions: Distribute case study and questions to students. Allow them time to research in class and intersperse with discussion and a mini-lecture. Alternatively, have students complete the case study on their own and discuss it in the next class. http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/endosymbiosis_01 is a wonderful resource and this case study will expose them to this site.

Worksheet: Endosymbiosis Case Study & QuestionsEndosymbiosis Case Study Questions KEY