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.
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)
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)
Students use biomimicry to develop and design a product for human use inspired by patterns and principles observed in nature. (150 mins)
Next Generations Science Standards
- Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
Science & Engineering Practices
- Engaging in Arguments From Evidence
Disciplinary Core Ideas
- Structure and Function
Cross Cutting Concepts
- Systems and System Models
- 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.
- 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.
- Seed pod
- Anjelica Gonzalez, PhD
Donna L. Dubinsky Associate Professor Biomedical Engineering Yale University
- Powerpoints for Make and Design
- Vocabulary Mind Map
- Solve Student Handout
- Make Student Handout
- Design Student Handout
New: RocketLit 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.
- 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 give a few examples of each and explains the difference between the two.
- 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.