Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Life Science: TerrAqua Column

What Is It?

One of the organisms you may identify in "What Is It?"

In Session 2, the focus was on a systematic approach to classifying living things. “What Is It?” is meant to engage you in classifying the organisms in your TerrAqua Column using the strategy for classifying into Domains and Kingdoms that was introduced in the video. In addition, you’ll be able to classify further in the plant and animal kingdoms.

What you’ll be using are “dichotomous keys,” which are used everyday by scientists to identify unknown organisms. Dichotomous keys involve “decision points” about an organism, where you have two choices. Each “decision” takes you further in classification. While the organisms in your TerrAqua Column may not be unknown to you, What Is It? will provide good experience in classification.

Materials Required


  1. Observe the organisms in your TerrAqua Column, including those that you introduced and any that are “newcomers.”
  2. Using your What Is It? Data Sheet (PDF), carefully describe the distinguishing features of each organism.
  3. Use the Dichotomous Keys (PDF) to classify each organism. Base each “decision point” on your descriptions and what you may already know about each organism.

Activity Questions

  1. What characteristics of cells can be used to classify organisms into domains and kingdoms?
  2. What are the domains and kingdoms explored in Session 2: Classifying Living Things?
  3. What features are used to classify organisms into each domain? Each kingdom?
  4. Which Domains are represented in your TerrAqua Column? Which kingdoms?
  5. Within the plant kingdom, which divisions are represented?
  6. Within the animal kingdom, which phyla are represented?
  7. How many different types of organisms live in your aquatic habitat? Your terrestrial habitat?
  8. What can you conclude about diversity in your TerrAqua Column?



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