Chromebook Lesson Ideas
Cone Snail Classification (Taxonomy)
About the Project
Science activities are perfect for utilizing the collaborative power of Chromebooks and Google Drive. In this activity, students will create a classification system for snail shells. Students will review the systems developed by the other lab groups in their class, allowing them to learn from the different perspectives of others. Take advantage of the collaborative power of Google Drive to pool lab data and provide students an opportunity to ask questions of one another and the lab process.
Provide students with a collection of cone snail shells in either physical or digital form. If you use a digital image of the shells, you may find it helpful to print it out for easier reference.
Explain that even professional scientists are still debating how to classify the more than 800 species of cone snails! This project gives students the chance to figure out their own approach, while learning about the dangerous venom the snails use to capture prey, and the exciting medical advances being explored.
Ask students to classify the cone snail shells based on what they can observe. Each system should have at least seven different categories, and none of the sample shells could fall under more than one. Criteria could include elements such as colors, whether the shells have spots or more than one row of markings, the direction of their swirl, their length-to-width ratio, etc.
After developing their own classification system, allow students to review the systems created by other groups. Then, share with them the systems currently being used by professional biologists.
Ask students to make observations about the different methods and difficulty of classifying these shells. The lesson concludes by asking students to build a chart representing the biodiversity of the shell collection.
Build beautiful infographics using Piktochart! Available in the Chrome Web Store
Tips and Suggestions
This assignment works best in small groups of two to three students. Doctopus, a free add-on for Google Sheets, will help you create and distribute all of the necessary resources to your lab groups. Doctopus integrates with Google Classroom, allowing you to import your class roster.
Invite students to use Google Drawing or Sketchpad to annotate on top of the snail shell image in order to identify family characteristics.
A possible extension for this lesson is to ask student to develop an infographic depicting the biodiversity of their shell families using Piktochart, a free infographic builder.
DOCTOPUS Doctopus is a great tool for facilitating group projects. Learn more
Lesson submitted by Shawn Maison, High School Science Teacher, Bay City, Michigan