Shape of Life offers classroom videos depicting the evolution of the animal kingdom on planet earth. Students and educators from all over the world explore animal adaptation, animations, and behaviors along with the amazing scientists who bring their stories to life. We also offer a rich selection of NGSS materials including lesson plans, readings, illustrations and activities that inspire a deeper dive into the phyla that explain so much of our existence. Shape of Life content is FREE to students and educators all over the world.
A Small Taste of Shape of Life Videos
Watch an abalone narrowly escape the grasp of a mighty pycnopodia.
Attending conferences is always fun for us. This summer we attended National Marine Educators Association annual conference—and it was a BLAST!
A highlight was meeting the enthusiastic (and, we mean enthusiastic!) teacher, Charlene Mauro who has been using Shape of Life in her classroom for 20 years. Charlene teaches at The Navarre Beach Marine Science Station- a unique fusion of formal and informal education.
Behind Every Great Scientist is a Teacher with a Strong Message
How does a kid from Missouri become an award-winning scientist who specializes in animals living in the bottom of the ocean? “It wasn’t until I was in community college that I was jolted into actually applying myself. I had a teacher who told me I ‘made him sick’ because I got decent grades with such little effort”, chuckled Jim. “I mean, he had a point. I was basically surfing and goofing off.”
Jim applied himself all the way to his PhD from Scripps Institute of Oceanography and today instills a natural curiosity about the ocean with his engaging presence.
Those pin-cushion looking creatures you want to avoid touching or stepping on are sea urchins. There are about 950 species living in all oceans and depth zones, from the intertidal to 16,000 feet deep. Sea urchins are echinoderms, related to sea stars and sea cucumbers. Although that might not seem immediately obvious, sea urchins have five-part symmetry (watch our video on the body plan of these animals: Five part symmetry)
This series of two lessons uses cutting-edge scientific research on the effects of climate change on communities in the intertidal. Through a combination of a dynamic presentation and several videos, students are introduced to climate change’s effects on the ocean (ocean acidification and temperature increase) and how ocean organisms are affected. Students read and interpret graphs and construct a scientific explanation based on data from this research.
It’s very easy to see sea urchin fertilization, cell division and embryonic development under a microscope. Realizing that the animals could be a great teaching tool in the classroom, the sea urchin development lab at Stanford’s University’s Hopkins Marine Station, led by Dr. Dave Epel, created the “Virtual Urchin” website. The goal of this project is to provide inquiry based lessons, available on a freely-accessible, open access website. Students can explore how scientists study sea urchins to understand larval development and metamorphosis, community ecology, pollution in the marine environment and biological evolution.
In order for students to become familiar with the body plan of the animal, the site includes sea urchin anatomy. Students can watch a video of the fertilization and the early development of the embryo online. There are also some very advanced activities about the larvae, instructing students how to virtually manipulate gene function to learn more about their development. If a teacher has access to live material, modules teach how to use a microscope, and then instructions for doing a fertilization lab in the classroom.
Bristlecone Pines Pinus Longaeva
At a time when the UN reports climate genocide – it sure did my heart good to tromp among the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. If you are ever near the White Mountains of the Great Basin in the shadow of the Eastern Sierra—do NOT miss this extraordinary side-trip.
The oldest living tree in the world, Methuselah, is known to be 4,788 years old. Edmund Schulman, who discovered the ancient bristlecones as ‘living ruins’ for science, identified the oldest specimen in the 1950’s through studying its tree rings.
A special THANK YOU to Erin Rempala, Professor of Biological Sciences, Chair Life Sciences Department at San Diego City College for helping to make this happen!
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