WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Scientific Binomial Nomenclature Systems
SOURCE: LIMU/Learning about Hawai'i's Edible Seaweeds
Department of Education, State of Hawaii, 1987
GRADE LEVEL: Gr. 4-8
Common names, scientific names, and even Hawaiian names for seaweeds are part of classification systems which reflect different cultures, and help people to identify and communicate about different kinds of seaweed.
--Students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of the scientific binomial classification system by "inventing" genus/species names for common objects and seaweeds.
--Students will be able to recognize the bases for common, scientific, and Hawaiian names of some edible seaweeds.
--several freshly picked samples of various kinds of edible seaweeds
--transparent bowls or pans of salt water for floating seaweed samples
--copies of student information sheets, instructions, and workloads
--Master copy of the Scientific Binomials for Seaweeds worksheets, filled in with the common names and scientific names of the seaweeds used
in the samples (see AlgaeBase at http://www.algaebase.org/ as a resource for looking up both common and scientific names of seaweeds)
- Correct Scientific Binomials
- Hawaiian names for seaweed
- Scientific name predictions
- Scientific names of seaweed
- Seaweed description worksheet
- Student instructions
- What's in a name vocabulary
--Review the Brief Etymologies of Selected Scientific Names information sheet files to add the scientific names of the seaweed samples to be used if needed
--Number the samples for easy reference
--Bowls could be located at various locations in the classroom, to avoid congestion.
--In addition, have small samples of each seaweed cleaned of sand, etc. and cut for tasting.
--Paper or cloth towels for drying hands might be a good idea.
Please refer to the section on Naming Seaweeds on this website.
Lesson 1: About Names
1. Discuss with the students why people name things. (For instance, names help us to refer to things our of reach or sight.) What happens when two people have different naems for one thing? (In order to communicate effectively, it helps to learn each other's terms.) You can illustrate this by asking someone to bring you an item in the classroom, calling the item by a name you made up for it (or its name in another language). Be careful not to indicate with eyes or gesture which item you mean.
2. Review the meanings of the scientific terms genus and species. Remind students that they may use non-scientific, adjective forms of these words in daily conversation ("generic" and "specific").
3. To reinforce the understanding of these terms and classifications, ask students to work in smaller groups to invent "genus/species" names for two or more sets of common objects (e.g. shoes, books, types of music). The genus name should be a noun indicating a general category, and the species name can be an adjective that identifies important characteristics of certain items in that category. Ask a representative from each group to present at least one of their sets, and to explain the basis for the names chosen, and which likeness and differences they singled out as most important in their classification system.
Lesson 2: Naming Seaweeds
1. Have a variety of samples of fresh seaweed floating freely in bowls of salt water, one kind per bowl. Invite students to take turns looking at, feeling, smelling, and tasting each seaweed sample.
2. As students to write a brief description of each seaweed, using the Seaweed Description worksheet.
3. Based on their sensory impressions, ask students to make up a name for each seaweed sample. Suggest they use the noun/adjective format as they did above for other objects.
(Note: Some students may already know common English names for several kinds of seaweed. Ask them to keep this information to themselves for now, and to think to themselves: "If I were naming this seaweed, what would I call it, based on my observations?")
4. Allow students to work in small groups to compar notes and names, then ask for volunteers from each group to summarize and explain some of the seaweed names each group has created. The class may enjoy trying to guess which seaweeds are being referred to with the new names.
Lesson 3A: Finding and Comparing Meanings of Seaweed Names (Predictions)
1. Distribute copies of the Brief Etymologies of Selected Scientific Names information sheet and have the students review the terms. Distribute copies of the Predictions of Scientific Binomials worksheet and see if students can guess the scientific and common names of the seaweed samples. Also let them use the AlgaeBase website to help them with their predictions.
2. Have students share the names they have selected and how they arrived at the answers.
Lesson 3B: Finding and Comparing Meanings of Seaweed Names (Verification)
1.. Write the scientific and common names of the seaweed samples used on the board, overhead, chart paper, etc. without identifying the matching sample.
2. Distribute copies of the Scientific Binomials for Seaweeds worksheet. Have students revise their answers.
3. Share the correct names of the seaweed samples with the class.
4. Ask students to compare the names they gave the seaweeds with the common and scientific names (also Hawaiian names if being used). Which, if any, of the names reflect awareness of similar characteristics? Which, while they might have had some meaning to those who coined the name, don't have an apparent meaning to the students?
Ask students to describe some of the similarities and differences between the common and scientific (also Hawaiian if used) nomenclature (naming) systems. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using each system? Would someone outside of class know what the students were talking about if they used some of the names they invented for seaweeds in class? Why do scientists use Latin and Greek root words in trying to create a world-wide system?