Friday, February 19, 2016

New Species Discovery

I have been spending some time this winter break reading some work done by my fifth and sixth grade students on a project called "New Species Discovery".  Each student learns about a particular location and habitat somewhere in the world, pretends to prepare for a trip to that location, and then writes a journal detailing their trip in some pint sized data notebooks that I have given them.  At some point during this fictional journey, they "discover" a new species of animal, decide how the animal should be classified, and then assign the animal a real scientific name. Imogen, who teaches Latin class, helps them to invent real Latin names that describe a distinguishing feature of the animal they have imagined.  For example, E.M. named his animal Mammoth silvestrus, or "scaly mammoth". Below are a few excerpts and photos from their journals. The students will also be working with Monica in art to produce a portrait that will bring their animal to life. Be sure to check out the New Species Discovery display and talk to the kids about their creatures at the SK Science Exhibition on March 17th!

“Finally I saw the male come out and raise his chin up to make him look bigger. He did that for about 5 hours. I was amazed by the passions of this mammal.”
Glis scopulorum - B.S.

“I heard snuffling noises and slowly approached the noise. As I slowly parted two leaves I saw it, a fist sized creature I can only describe as a humongous tartigrade.”  -
Echiniscis maximus nidus - M.P.

“We see one sitting on a branch eating a fox. We cannot let it see us. Now it's swooping down!  No it got George! I take out the dart gun and took George away! How am I going to explain this to the government?”
Aquila celerrima - O.D.

“I am hiding with my disguise near a water pool.  I know a lot of non-predatory birds come here...The birds are starting to fly off; this is my chance to see a coag”
Caracal canina - S.K.

“The first dive is a success! We have video recording of a strange animal. It looks like a large catfish, but it is heavily armored. This fish also burrows in the riverbed. Upon closer inspection, this creature is completely new to science!”
Placodermi armiger - K.R.

“I just got to the mating grounds. Wait a minute, what's that turtle doing? It looks like it's putting leaves on its coconut, maybe it's doing it to attract females.”
Testudo stridulus celer - J.M.

“I looked at the animal, taking it all in. It was very beautiful. I wonder how we never discovered any of them… I will call it the Mammoth silvestrus which is translated into mammoth was a behemoth of an animal...
Mammoth silvestrus - E.M.

“The leader bucked, swooped with his antlers and kicked. The wolves began to overwhelm him. He called to the herd.  The herd ran, only one wolf followed.”
Cervus maximus - N.C.

“At 2:00 this morning we heard some gulping noises near our camp. It was a male lizard trying to attract a female. It worked for him except it also attracted another male…”
Draco cornuta - B.K.

“This is a very strange discovery because it's basically a purple zebra. No one has even sighted this creature…I'm trying to see if it can be domesticated.”
Equus purpurius - K.T.

“I found a new animal! It's some kind of cat. It was black with white spots. I saw it, and then it showed its teeth…”
Panthera stellata - E.H.

“We just had our first sighting!  Rick saw it on the cameras chasing a lemur through our clearing. Angelina gave chase, but she was outrun a few hundred feet into the jungle…”
Canis saltuatim - R.N.

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