Lab 20: Descent with Modification and Embryonic Development: Does Animal Embryonic Development Support or Refute the Theory of Descent With Modification?

Contributor
National Science Teachers Association
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Lesson/Lesson Plan
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

Lab 20: Descent With Modification and Embryonic Development is one of a series of lab investigations for the middle school student from the book, “Argument-Driven Inquiry in Life Science:  Lab Investigations for Grades 6-8”.  Students are introduced to the idea of descent with modification and read about adaptations and homologous structures such as limbs in mammals.  They then look at images of embryo development in eight different vertebrates and design a simple investigation to answer the question of whether animal embryonic development supports or refutes the theory of descent with modification.  Students then engage in argumentation with other groups in the classroom based on the data that they have collected from the embryo pictures and their analysis of the data.  “Checkout Questions” are provided to facilitate student reflection on what was learned.  Students are assigned a short investigation report to finish processing their experience.  Significant background information is provided for teachers and to a lesser degree in the student hand-out in the introduction. The NGSS standards addressed in the lesson are also included in the teacher’s notes.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Grade 8
  • Grade 7
  • Grade 6
  • Middle School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

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Performance Expectations

MS-LS4-3 Analyze displays of pictorial data to compare patterns of similarities in the embryological development across multiple species to identify relationships not evident in the fully formed anatomy.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on inferring general patterns of relatedness among embryos of different organisms by comparing the macroscopic appearance of diagrams or pictures.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment of comparisons is limited to gross appearance of anatomical structures in embryological development.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The lab aligns very well with this performance expectation since students are deciding which characteristics of the embryonic development process of multiple species to use as evidence. They then analyze the data and identify the relationships to lead them to evidence for or against the theory of descent with modification.

MS-LS4-2 Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on explanations of the evolutionary relationships among organisms in terms of similarity or differences of the gross appearance of anatomical structures.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The example of homologous structures such as vertebrate limbs is used as a part of the introduction to the lab, showing that it can be used as evidence for the theory of descent with modification. It is only part of a reading and students do not construct any explanations on their own for this disciplinary core idea, but it can help them when doing the lab where they construct an explanation for how embryos support or refute the theory of descent with modification. This activity is aligned to performance expectation MS-LS4-3. However, the introduction provides the opportunity to also address MS-LS4.2. To make the activity closer aligned to the performance expectation MS-LS4-2, teachers could give students the pictures of homologous structures such as animal forelimbs and asked them to construct an explanation for whether they support or refute descent with modification. This could be done before the introductory reading. Including examples from the fossil record would also help to address the entire disciplinary core idea.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
This activity provides an opportunity for students to participate in argumentation. A simplified graphic organizer, “Argumentation Presentation on a Whiteboard” scaffolds students through the argumentation process. Students are given the choice of pictures of embryonic development from eight animals from which to choose and develop their argument. Several questions are provided for the students to assess whether their argument is convincing, and students share their work with others in a round-robin format. During the round-robin, one member of the group stays with the group’s work and explains it to others, as they visit. The remaining group members go to other groups and listen and critique their arguments, resulting in a process during which every team evaluates each other’s work.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
After students construct a data table that best helps them make sense of their data and think about the patterns they see, a scientific explanation is written based on the evidence. Students identify the guiding question, their claim, their evidence and their justification of the evidence. This is written on a whiteboard and used in the argumentation session of the activity. The protocol for writing an explanation is included in every activity in the book and is an excellent way to have students understand the process of how scientists report their findings after analyzing their data. The justification aspect, explaining why their evidence is important and how it relates to the claim, is important for students to articulate their thinking.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Instructions on how to complete the activity are provided to assist students in the design process for the investigation they will carry out. Students decide how to plan their investigation with guiding questions and the embryonic development pictures. Teachers are encouraged to facilitate student development of a data table so students can realize the maximum benefit of an exercise in experimental design. If students are unfamiliar with the experimental design process, the teacher will need to provide instruction and model how to design good experiments and collect appropriate data.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
In this activity students examine the process of embryo development for eight different animals to answer the question of whether animal embryonic development supports or refutes the theory of descent with modification. Students need to select the type and number of characteristics of embryos that they will examine and use as evidence, decide how they will quantify the differences and similarities and then determine how they will analyze the data they collect. They need to construct a data table that best helps them make sense of their data and then think about the patterns they see and the relationship between structure and function in the embryonic characteristics. A scientific explanation is written based on the evidence and students argue with others in the class based on an established protocol of critiquing each other’s arguments.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The example of homologous structures such as vertebrate limbs is used as a part of the introduction to the lab, showing that it can be used as evidence for the theory of descent with modification. It is only part of a reading and students do not construct any explanations on their own for this disciplinary core idea, but it can help them when doing the lab where they construct an explanation for how embryos support or refute the theory of descent with modification. To make the activity closer aligned to the Disciplinary Core Idea, teachers may want to give students the pictures of homologous structures such as animal forelimbs and asked them to construct an explanation for whether they support or refute descent with modification. This could be done before the introductory reading. Including examples from the fossil record would also help to address the entire disciplinary core idea.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
After students collect the data on their chosen embryonic characteristics they need to analyze it by looking for the patterns in the data. This helps them to see the relationships between the embryos and to answer the question of whether their investigations helps to support or refute the theory of descent with modification. The practice of finding patterns in the data leads students to see that evolution has caused descent with modification. The way the activity is written for students emphasizes the idea of looking for patterns in the data, but explicit discussion by the teacher in this part of the lab will help students to internalize how this crosscutting concept is an essential part of the investigation.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Students engage in three dimensional learning in this activity. The disciplinary core idea about comparing the embryonic development process is done through students planning and carrying out an investigation using pictures of embryonic development, constructing an explanation based on finding patterns in that evidence and then arguing their claim. The disciplinary core ideas, practices and crosscutting concepts are integrated in what the students do in this lab.

  • Instructional Supports: By using student-collected data, this activity provides an excellent, scientifically accurate context in which students can engage in three-dimensional learning. Several guiding questions are provided to facilitate students through the experimental design process as well as the argumentation session. Students have opportunities to build on feedback from other students as to whether their answer to the research question is the most valid and acceptable, and there is scaffolding in the form of a graphic organizer to support students. In the hints for implementing the lab on p.335, there are a list of types of observations that the teacher can suggest for students that are struggling with this component of the lab. For students that are having difficulties, more specific questions could be incorporated in the student report to help guide students for their specific investigation.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: A “Checkout Questions” page is provided for a more immediate summative assessment (6 questions total). Students are also assigned a two-page “Investigative Report”. The report is divided into three sections and three major questions are provided for students to address in the report, which includes the results of their argumentation session. There is no rubric or sample answers provided.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: This resource does not have a technology component.