Classification is one of the processes used
by scientists in their search for explanations. In classifying, things that
are similar with respect to a given feature or set of features are grouped
together. Classification systems used to place things in a group are
determined by humans. Thus, there may be many types of groupings. Early
classifiers of plants and animals grouped them in entirely different ways from
how they are classified today. Classification is a means of organizing
knowledge. This process often indicates order where order does not appear to
exist. Classification of living things is useful in learning to identify
organisms and in acquiring insight into the relatedness of living things.
Classification is important in science
because it attempts to discover order in a chaotic world. Classification
itself is not a science, only logical divisions to arrange things so that they
can be easily identified. Not all characteristics can be used to classify an
organism, however. For example, librarians could classify books in two groups,
large and small, but this would not help a person to locate a specific book.
Taxonomy is the science of classification,
and is usually restricted to biology and paleontology. Taxonomic relationships
try to find those characteristics that are natural and of some significance.
Modern taxonomy depends upon organisms that reproduce through time. The basic
method of taxonomy is to compare and weigh the characteristics of the
structures of plants and animals by comparative anatomy or genetic coding. The
most recognizable taxonomic unit is a species. The other arrangements include:
Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. Organisms change
through time. Many times it can take only a change in one gene to create a
different morphological creature.
- Nature sometimes does not fit into nice
little groups. It is important for students to realize that biologists,
zoologists, and paleontologists have not been successful in defining and
grouping all organisms. Students by this time should have developed a sense of
the different types of organisms. Have students research on a particular
organism and have them give an oral report to the class.
- Using the internet and/or library have
the students research and write a story about one group of organisms. It could
be any representative of the 6 Kingdoms. The worksheet may help guide the
student get information.
- Discuss with students that in their oral
report they should address where the organism is classified within the Kingdom
system. Students should explore why the organism has been classified in that
manner. They should discuss the eating habits, reproduction, habitat, life
cycle, and the physical structure of the organism.
- If you have scheduled enough time, have
students give an oral report. Other students should be taking notes as their
class mates give information. By the end of all the oral talks, see if
students can find those characteristics that classify the organisms into the 6
kingdom system. They should conclude that eating habits and sexual habits
delineate their kingdom. The physical structure helps to classify them into
their subgroups, which on this kingdom chart refers to phyla. Make sure that
within the class, representatives of the different phyla are included.