Level 5 - Guiding Question: What characteristics distinguishes one group of plants from another? What advantages do they possess? Grouping Plants according to their characteristics is an easy way to categorize, understand their requirements and identify them. After reading the short chapter on classification answer the five questions below.
Level 5 - Investigation: A way that many people learn to identify plants is using a plant or dichotomous key. A dichotomous key is a tool that allows the user to determine the identity of items in the natural world, such as trees, wildflowers, mammals, reptiles, rocks, and fish. Keys consist of a series of choices that lead the user to the correct name of a given item. "Dichotomous" means "divided into two parts". Therefore, dichotomous keys always give two choices in each step. Directions for using the dichotomous key for tree identification:
- A set of choices will appear on the screen, with the word "start" at the top. Choose one of the two items by clicking on one of the white boxes.
- After a choice is made in the first step, a second set of choices will appear. The previous choice you made will appear at the top, where the word "start" was before. Keep clicking on the boxes that best describe the characteristics of the tree you are trying to identify.
- Eventually your choices will lead you to the name of a tree Genus. Clicking on the box with a genus name will connect you to a description of that particular genus. From the genus description page you will also be able to connect to a species page to view pictures of the native tree species contained in that genus.
- If you are trying to determine the identity of a "mystery tree", work through the key until you reach the tree species that matches the given characteristics. Then, return to the mystery tree page to find the solution to your mystery tree. If your tree doesn't match the solution, go back through the key again to try to reach the correct tree.
Let's head out to a local park and try using dichotomous keys. Get a key from your instructor and form groups of 3-4 and we be heading out to one of our local city parks and ID about 5-8 trees. Each student is to ID 5-8 trees and take a picture of some identifying feature and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org don't forget to text the your name and the name of the tree from the key.
Level 5- Videos: Classifying plants based on a monocot or dicot
After watching the VDO on Monocots and Dicots complete the lab on moncots and dicots.
Level - 5 Elaboration: Making your own dichotomous key
In this activity each group of 2 will construct their own dichotomous key using the fictional plants that are supplied on the diagram below. Use any physical property or characteristic you can see that will help you and others "key out" each plant. Remember you are to make it user friendly..in other words others you are suppose to be able to use it so that their can identify plants easily. First, you and your partner name each plant on the diagram, then create a key that has two choices basically a yes and no which should direct them ultimately to each plant. You will be given two days to complete the key. On the third day you will exchange keys with other groups and grade each other's key based on easy of use and correctness.