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Introduction and Use of Dichotomous Keys


Students learn this hundreds-of-years-old method that is still standard today. Lab Kit for 30 students. Students work with 8 illustrated "specimen" cards and 2 types of dichotomous keys (an indented and non-indented numerical version.) They will identify each "specimen" to an imaginary genus and species, and some to a variety. The students first observe specific physical characteristics of some specimens, then sort those with similar traits. Because the students must record letters or numbers (depending on the type of key), the teacher is able to evaluate the students’ ability to read science. Students must also draw 2 "specimens" not included in the sample, basing their illustrations on descriptions in the key. Stimulating, challenging, and fun, this activity helps to teach reading and observation skills.

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