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Teacher Resource

Students will learn how to construct a dichotomous key to organize living or nonliving things by physical traits, practice using a dichotomous key to identify some Chesapeake Bay invertebrates, and demonstrate ways of thinking inherent in the practice of science.

Grade Level: 8-12

Time Required:
One class period to perform on-line activity or two class periods to perform on-line activity and construct a key of their own.

Groups in class or individual on-line

Science Topics:
Classification, Marine Science, Biology

Materials Required:
writing utensil, paper, 10 living or nonliving things to classify


Related Activites:
Biofilm & Biodiversity



This activity is based upon the strategies set in place by the MSDE High School Core Learning Goals prepared by the Maryland State Performance Assessment Program.


Goal 1: Skills and Processes
The student will demonstrate ways of thinking and acting inherent in the practice of science. The student will use the language of science to collect, organize, interpret, calculate, and communicate information.

Goal 3: Concepts of Biology
The student will demonstrate the ability to use scientific skills and processes (Goal 1) and major biological concepts to explain the uniqueness and interdependence of living organisms, their interactions with their environment, and the continuation of life on earth.

Note: This activity was written primarily to give science and mathematics teachers an opportunity to incorporate the Internet into classroom instruction. Before allowing students direct access to the Internet, be sure you are aware of your school's acceptable use policies. If your school does not have a policy, please look into this before allowing students Internet access. We have also developed downloadable and hard copy versions of this activity.