Jun
21
2011

Science House Journal Entry

Materials:

  • Domestic Cat Skull
  • White Tail Deer Skull
  • Black Bear Skull
  • Beaver Skull
  • Horse Skull
  • Badger Skull
  • Mink Skull
  • Raccoon Skull
  • Red Fox Skull
  • German Shepherd Skull
Grades: 2nd
Class size: 18
Time: 30 minutes
Science House report image
German Shepherd Skull

I had my students do a beginners' comparative anatomy lesson of some animals commonly found in Minnesota. I divided the class into two groups. The first group observed, made notes, and recorded questions about the eye size and position and, the second group did the same by observing the teeth and jaws. Then each eye expert was paired with a tooth expert. The pairs were then given one skull to draw a picture of and to write observations about in their science journals. They wrote down information about the eyes and the teeth based on the discussions they had just had in their expert groups. Based on an earlier lesson about Minnesota habitats and adaptations, the students inferred what the animal might eat.

Minnesota Science Standards: 
Life Science
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

That sounds like an interesting lesson. I think I'd like to try to do something similar with my high school biology class. I imagine moving from qualitative observations though to quantitative measurements.

I wonder what parts of a skull could easily be measured?

posted on Thu, 06/23/2011 - 1:18pm
Travis's picture
Travis says:

There are lots of aspects of skulls that can be measured/quantified. There are several books in the Science House collection that could help you learn more:

http://trc.smm.org/simple/results/?SearchField0=animal+skulls&I0.x=0&I0....

I think one of the most interesting aspects of a skull to measure is the length and height of the jawbones of various species. If you measure and plot a wide variety of animals some striking relationships become evident. It turns out that the carnivores tend to have a very low height/length ratio (great for shearing through meat), herbivores tend to have a high ratio (great for grinding plants, and omnivores run the gamut (reflective of varying diets and evolutionary paths?)

At the museum, we have developed a task card that helps students make these measures, graph the results, and draw conclusions. We'd be happy to share it with you if you are interested.

Travis
Science Museum of MN
Professional Development Specialist

posted on Thu, 09/08/2011 - 3:46pm

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