Create a Cladogram
Central Florida Community College
This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.
This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: Jun 4, 2009
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Create a cladogram using nails,screws, and bolts. Teaches students not familar with paleontology about cladistics using items most students have seen before.
undergraduate Non-major general science
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
basic concepts of cladistics, differences between derived and primitive characters
How the activity is situated in the course
stand alone exercise
Content/concepts goals for this activity
The goals of this activity is for students to be able to demostrate that they understand the concepts of cladistics well enough to construct a simple cloadogram
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
In this activity students must make observations about objects and how they may relate evolutionarily.
Other skills goals for this activity
Students work in groups of two for this activity. They must also communicate and compare results with other groups.
Description of the activity/assignment
Once the lecture on anatomy, classification and evolution are covered students then complete the "create a cladogram activity." Students are given a bag of nails, screws, and bolts which they must seperate and make observations about the characters of each item. Student then must determine the important derived characters and generate a matrix and cladogram. Students then must compare their cladograms with other groups to see how results varied and why results varied. This activity gives studnets proactive with the procedure of generating cladograms and some of its complexities.
Determining whether students have met the goals
I look over their matrix and cladograms to see if the correctly defined the derived charcters. There is more than one correct answer so as long as they group the "organism" using derived charcters in a way that makes sense then they have met the goals of that section of the activity.More information about assessment tools and techniques.
For the questions section if they put a thoughtful answer and demostrate they can create a simple cladogram using everyday objects they have met the goals of this section.
Download teaching materials and tips
Activity Description/Assignment:Create a Cladogram (Acrobat (PDF) 69kB Aug2 09)
An option for an additional activity is to give students real organisms and ask the students to complete the same assignment
Solution Set:Solution Set for Create a Cladogram (Acrobat (PDF) 52kB Aug2 09)