Unit Overview

In Mosa Mack’s Plant and Animal Structures Unit, students are led through a progression of three inquiry lessons that focus on the comparison of plant and animal structures and functions. The unit culminates with an Engineering challenge in which students use biomimicry to design a solution to a human problem.

  • Lesson 1
    Lesson 1: Solve: Killer Giraffe Mystery + Vocabulary Mind Map

    Solve: Killer Giraffe Mystery + Vocabulary Mind Map

    Students contextualize Plant and Animal Structures vocabulary in a Mind Map before helping Mosa Mack solve the mystery of how the giraffe helps the survival of the Acacia tree. By the end of The Solve, students discover that plants and animals have structures and functions that support survival, growth, and reproduction. (75 mins)

  • Lesson 2
    Lesson 2: Make: Lab Stations: Compile a Field Guide as you Compare Structures and Functions of Plants & Animals

    Make: Lab Stations: Compile a Field Guide as you Compare Structures and Functions of Plants & Animals

    While going through a series of discovery activities, students create a Field Guide as a visual model that compares the structures and function of animal and plants. (145 mins)

  • Lesson 3
    Lesson 3: Engineer: Engineer a Solution to a Human Problem Using Biomimicry

    Engineer: Engineer a Solution to a Human Problem Using Biomimicry

    Students use biomimicry to develop and design a product for human use inspired by patterns and principles observed in nature. (150 mins)

  • Next Generation Science Standards
    Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction. [Clarification Statement: Examples of structures could include thorns, stems, roots, colored petals, heart, stomach, lung, brain, and skin.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to macroscopic structures within plant and animal systems.]
    Use a model to describe that animals receive different types of information through their senses, process the information in their brain, and respond to the information in different ways. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on systems of information transfer.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the mechanisms by which the brain stores and recalls information or the mechanisms of how sensory receptors function.]
  • Inquiry Scale
    • Each lesson in the unit has an Inquiry Scale that provides directions on how to implement the lesson at the level that works best for you and your students.
    • “Level 1” is the most teacher-driven, and recommended for students in 4th-5th grades. “Level 4” is the most student-driven, and recommended for students in 7th-8th grades.
    • For differentiation within the same grade or class, use different inquiry levels for different groups of students who may require additional support or an extra challenge.
  • Common Misconceptions
    • When thinking about living things, students tend to think exclusively about animals, and specifically vertebrates. Encourage students to notice other domains of life, including plants and fungus. Though these living things may not look alike, they all have structures that help them grow, survive and reproduce.
    • Relatedly, students may think that plants are not alive because they do not show “movement” or “breath,” characteristics many students use to determine if something is alive. Emphasize to students that plants are alive and have structures to support their growth, survival and reproduction.
    • Students may initially think that animal and plant structures serve only one purpose. Encourage students to notice structures that have more than one purpose, like certain fur that can be used for warmth as well as for camouflage, or talons that can be used for picking up prey as well as for defense.
  • Vocabulary
      • Reproduce
      • Root
      • Leaf
      • Thorn
      • Seed pod
      • Survive
      • Grow
  • Content Expert
    • Anjelica Gonzalez, PhD
      Donna L. Dubinsky Associate Professor Biomedical Engineering Yale University
  • Leveled Reading

    * To give our users the most comprehensive science resource, Mosa Mack is piloting a partnership with RocketLit, a provider of leveled science articles.

    • How Do Birds Stay Warm?

      Birds have many behavioral adaptations that allow them to stay warm in the coldest regions on Earth. This article reviews a few of the behaviors of birds that help them to survive and also explains how countercurrent blood flow works.

    • Internal Adaptations in Living Things

      All living things have adaptations that help them to survive in their environment. In this article, we look at a few specific adaptations of plants, birds, and fish that help them to survive and thrive in their environments.

    • Evidence for Evolution: Analogous and Homologous Structures

      The fossil record provides a wealth of evidence for evolution, both in organisms who've evolved similar structures in the same environment and organisms who are genetically related that share similar traits. This article gives a few examples of each and explains the difference between the two.