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Diversity Puzzle


Link for the "The Organism Puzzle Pieces"


Exercise #1: Organize the puzzle pieces into any number of groups you see fit.

  1. How many groups did you have?
  2. How did you define your groups?

Exercise #2 : Organize the puzzle pieces into groups based on ______ (Fill in the Blank).

  1. How many groups did you have?
  2. What organisms changed groups compared to your first schema?

Exercise 3#: Repeat #2 as many times as necessary with different criteria.


Diane OFee-Powers's picture

Diversity Puzzle

The Diversity Puzzle is an activity I can implement in the begining of 7th grade because we start with classification. I am always surprised how my kids come up with different ways to classify items and it will be fun to see how my kids decide to classify these pictures!
Cynthia Henderson's picture


As we apply our senses to our teaching and learning,I found that students may have different tolerances to varying stumuli. Some are more sensitive than others with regard to body parts. 
Cynthia Henderson's picture

species detection

We went outside to detect how many species may be found in a small space .We used different types of catagorizing.
joycetheriot's picture

Restructuring the Organism Pieces Activity for High School


In teaching both chemistry and Physics I would reform this activity to target  

I am drafting a lesson plan around this in my blog under

Classification Inquiry.

LuisanaT's picture

One day of inquiry

To bette the flow of the day for future Science as Inquiry institutes, I would like to suggest rearranging the scheduling slightly so that the summer logistics (credits, money) are followed by the computer logistics (serendip, blog). This way we can create and present introductions to then jump into the discussion on inquiry and follow nicely into the diversity activities.
I particularly enjoyed the last rendition on the diversity puzzle where we were asked to order the organisms based on which we would eat if stranded on a deserted island. I feel that its definitely a thoroughly engaging activity to have students do. (I even found myself toying around with the pieces long after the acitivity was over).
Personally, I wish the class went closer to the area where you took my BIO 103 class for the outdoor exploring diversity activity because there is a greater abundance of unique plant life there. Not only would that, it would potentially generate more important observational considerations from these teachers.

bronstein's picture


The way Wil demonstrated that there is a large variety of ways to decide to categorize data was a real eye-opener. Again we can look at how we can make things "less wrong." It also brings to mind the "concept maps" that have become very popular over the last decade. More and more I see how the construction of these webs of facts and topics and methods helps our students to find their own ways of constructing and retaining knowledge. The exercise we performed is well worth doing in our classrooms. I think the kids will gain a broader understanding of the problems and concepts that we will be dealing with throughout the rest of the year if they are exposed to this exercise early on.

I think I will also try making more use of concept maps -- even tho the activity takes a bit of time. I will compare the results achieved to those I got by more traditional methods last year.

Anonymous's picture

Diversity Puzzle

I would definitly use this activity if I teach science next year. It is an interesting way to get kids to see how they classify items. This activity is helpful to see how the kids process the information provided to them. I think it is also a helpful tool to implement higher order thinking skills. As I am writing this, I am thinking of implementing this activity into a writing activity since I probably will end up teaching at least 1 RELA class next year. This will provide me a cross curricular activity, which will allow me to show the students that writing isn't just for RELA class!

Deesha Lockett's picture

Organism Puzzle

I found this to be very interesting. I would probably not use as many puzzle pieces with a kindergarten group. I would probably introduce maybe 3 different areas for them to catergorize at a time, or maybe give them the categories to group the pieces in since they probably would not be familiar with using the right wording. For instance, I would give them a group of pictures and tell them to group all the things that are water based, on land, plants or animals. Then I would give the more scientific language for the category.
Susan Dorfman's picture

Classification with Buttons

This activity can be used with Middle and High School students.

First have a discussion about characteristics. Start with the people in the room. Have students rise and separate them by age. Then ask them to choose another characteristic for the second division. Do at least a third division. Ask each student to mentally record who is in their final group. Now ask students to choose another characteristic to make the first division. Again have the students move into their new group. Have students agree on the second characteristic, the third characteristic, each time moving into the new group. Ask students if they are still with the same people who composed their final group in the first run. Suggest that the decision to prioritize characteristic affects the outcome of the classification system.

Separate them into lab groups and give each group a bag of mixed buttons. Dry cleaning establishments have lots of extra buttons that they might be willing to off load to a teacher. Divide the buttons into zip lock bags and distribute to the lab groups in your class. Ask the students fo choose a characteristic by which to separate the larger group into two smaller groups. Ask them to divide each of the larger groups into smaller groups choosing a different characteristics with each degree of separation. Ask a member of each group to record the decisions made by the group in the form of a diagram. When the group feels it is done, ask that the group summarize why they made the decisions that drove the diagram. Now, ask the lab group to start over using a different characteristic to make the first division and follow the same steps as with the first run of this activity, again making the diagram and writing the rationale behind the decisions. By the end of this activity, the students will understand that the decisions of what characteristics to use are important. Middle School students are open to a discussion of race as a characteristic. Is race an important characteristic??? Gauge your student culture to determine if this discussion is appropriate.

If the students are of high school age, you can distribute cut outs of living organisms as was done in the Science as Inquiry Summer Institute activity with the Organism Puzzle Pieces.


joycetheriot's picture


If you can't get buttons, I've done a similar activity using the bag of mixed (dried) beans that all supermarkets sell for ham soup.

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