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Lesson summary for:
Making 3D phylogenetic trees with mobiles


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Students create three-dimensional trees in the form of mobiles so that the branching nodes pivot. Students can manipulate the mobile to see the relationships more clearly and combat common misconceptions about trees.


Grade level:

30 minutes

Teaching tips:
This is a simple introductions to cladistics, but should be followed up with more in-depth activities on tree thinking.

Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • Present-day species evolved from earlier species; the relatedness of organisms is the result of common ancestry. (LS4.A)

  • Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) portray hypotheses about evolutionary relationships.

Teacher background:

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