Organizing (classifying) data is one of the
most important skills of a scientist. However, you organize "data"
on your own every day whether you are a scientist or not. You probably sort
your clothes into drawers, separate your homework by subject and keep your
desk clean by separating paper from pencils and pens. There are many different
ways to organize data. Some ways work better than others depending on the
items to be organized. Words in a dictionary are organized alphabetically, and
this makes it very easy to find a word. But what would happen if the local
supermarket was organized alphabetically? Chaos, for not only the shopper but
the store merchant.
- This exercise could be assigned as a
homework assignment or you might want to have the children bring to school
some buttons that no one is using. This classification exercise has the
students carefully choosing characteristics that might help them group the
buttons together faster. Biologists and paleontologists call these
characteristics "keys," which help group organisms into major groups
- In the post lab, students will compare
classification with taxonomy (the science of classification). This exercise is
intended to have students develop logical, realistic, and useful
characteristics as they separate their groups.