Realizing the concept of Biodiversity through the taxonomy of animals, combining their structural elements with their functions and their life history.


Student Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how to approach a scientific issue, how to investigate, to observe, to come up to conclusions and solutions, etc. Generally, to gain a scientific way of thinking.
  • Cooperation, teamwork, development of critical thinking, socialization, environmental awareness, and sensitiveness.
  • Categorization of animal taxa, according to the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) (
  • Relation of body structure and function


Biology, Taxonomy, Biodiversity, animal nomenclature

Age Range

>10 years old


School, science museum, web


In school: 8 hours (5 pre-visit and 3 post-visit)

In the museum (virtually): 2 hours

Technical Requirements

Cell phones, computer, books, internet access

Connection with the curriculum

This educational program could (indicative):

  • support the course “Physica” of the 6th grade of Primary School and specifically the section “Animals”, while at the same time it relates to the proposals for synthetic works in the section “Biodiversity and humanity: The relationship of humans with other animals “. It could also be connected to the “Language” and the “Geography” of the Primary School
  • operate in addition to the implementation of the NEW CURRICULUM in the section “Living matter. Life around us” of the 5th grade of Primary School
  • be included in the initiative “Skills Lab” under the circle: “ENVIRONMENT”
  • operate additionally, in High School and Lyceum, in the deepening of cognitive areas of the Biology curriculum, which refer to the structure and role of organisms, the classification of life forms, the mechanisms of the functions of the living world, as well as the relations of structure and function of animal organisms. The Experiential Works of the High School and the Research Works (Projects) of the Lyceum, might also draw topics and methodology from the proposed educational path.
  • also be combined with the School Activities Programs implemented inside and outside school hours in Primary and Secondary Education respectively, in terms of content, method and materials, cross-curricular approach and work strategy of groups.


This educational pathway follows an inquiry-based pedagogical approach, organised into 3 logical stages:

  1. Pre-Visit
  2. Visit
  3. Post-Visit

Teacher Support Materials

Useful resources, suitable for the age group of your students, are available at the “Teacher Support Materials” tab.

Guidance for Preparation

  • Communication with the school director and the teachers involved to the project.
  • Guidelines for the implementation.
  • Suggest resources (ppt, videos, web pages, printed material).

Pre-visit (5 hours)

Orientation information

  • Provoke curiosity on biodiversity and natural environment

Watch the documentary “Microcosmos : Le peuple de l’herbe (1996) FuLL Movie HD” ( and answer to the question: Based on which characteristic or characteristics would you group the organisms you see in the video?

  • Familiarity with the concepts of “discrimination”, “similarity”, “criterion classification”, “grouping”
  • Cut the following fingerprints and group them according to a specific criterium. Take into account that there are 3 basic types of fingerprints, whorl, loop, and arch.

Photo in article: Ortega-Garcia, J.,et al., 2003. MCYT baseline corpus: a bimodal biometric database. IEE Proc Vis Image Signal Process Spec Issue Biom Internet. IEE Proceedings – Vision Image and Signal Processing. 395 – 401. 10.1049/ip-vis:20031078.

Based on the structural element “vertebrae”, group the following organisms into 2 main groups. How would you name those groups?

Building pre-experiences


Here is an example of an everyday problem, which students are going to investigate (the teacher will have the role of the facilitator).

Mr. Stavros has a big farm, where he grows various vegetables and fruits and raises chickens, goats, rabbits, and pigs. His animals graze freely on the estate. He is generally very happy with his production. But this year, its production has been gradually declining: many of the fruits have fallen to the ground damaged, many tree leaves have been eaten by some organisms, its vegetables have been easily uprooted, the leaves of the vegetables have holes or have been eaten and even their fruits have small spots (threads), they are missing pieces or rotting on the plant. As for his animals, some hens lose their wings while some goats do not gain weight. Mr. Stavros is very worried. He realizes that he must act before the problems spread and destroy all his production.

Think about what steps he needs to follow to decide which is the best way to deal with the problems and ensure its production for the coming years, without burdening the environment and his pocket.

The student should ask and try to answer the two following questions:

  1. Who should Mr. Stavros consult to find out what is happening on his farm?
  2. Who is responsible for the damage to Mr. Stavros’ farm, climatic conditions or some organisms?

Helpful facts

  1. A) Occupations and Services related to animals:

Agronomist. Plans, advises, and implements studies and programs of agricultural and livestock development with the aim of increasing production and improving its quality. Provides advice to farmers on the type and cultivation of plants depending on the climate and soil of each area. Identifies various diseases of production or plants and suggests ways to treat them. In addition, it advises farmers on the breeding of farm animals.

Biologist. He is the scientist who studies the phenomena of life. Among other things, it can work by recording the lifestyle of plants or animals, so it selects the area where the organism grows and possibly settles there for some time, observes and records the living and growing conditions of the organism, classifies, and evaluates the results, records, and communicates his conclusions.

Veterinary. The veterinarian’s job is primarily to prevent, diagnose and treat animal diseases. Some veterinary services and activities include analysis of biological substances of small or large animals, radiological examinations of injured or abused animals, prevention of animal illnesses by administration of vaccines or other preventive regimens, diagnosis and treatment of animal illnesses and advising on animal care.

Ministry of Rural Development & Food. It institutes the policy of agricultural and livestock production.

Organic certification and control organizations. They offer valid information to certified entrepreneurs, but also to those who want to join the Certification Systems in which they operate.

  • B) Other information about animals
  • Our planet is inhabited by a huge number of different life forms. These living organisms are perfectly adapted to their environment, from Ecuador to the Poles, from the high mountain peaks to the great depths of the sea, from the deepest and darkest caves to the hot light deserts.
  • Some organisms are beneficial to humans: they provide food, housing materials, medicines, clothes, shoes…
  • Others cause problems for humans: they infect crops, they transmit diseases, they destroy homes and clothing, they pollute the air, the soil and the water, …
  • However, all organisms have their own role to play in sustaining life on our planet. If the balance of the coexistence of organisms is disturbed, problems are arising.

Note for the teacher

There are no more or less advanced organisms. All ormanisms are as advanced as needed. If their model is successful for the environment in which they live, then it does not need to change. Evolution is driven by the pressure exerted on organisms, e.g. lack of food, space, etc.

Support or guidance available before the visit

For more info, please contact Dr Iasmi Stathi, Head of NHMC Education Lab here:

Visit (the minimal core of the learning experience) (2 hours)

Provoke curiosity: questions to ask, things to observe

The core experience

  • Watch the presentations about a) the taxonomy of animals, and b) their body structures and their functions
  • Watch this video about the systematic biologist  (for the English translation of the video see in the end of the document)
  • Use the identification keys and try to identify the following organisms: an earthworm, an ant, a spider, a snail, an octopus, a starfish, a shark, a frog, a rattlesnake, an eagle, a kangaroo, a dog, and an elephant.

Watch the mouthparts (VP_MOUTHPARTS AND LEGS_EN.pdf) of the following insects and try to guess how they eat their food: grasshopper, domestic fly, bee, praying mantis, butterfly, cicada, beetle, mosquito.

Take a closer look at the legs (VP_MOUTHPARTS AND LEGS_EN.pdf) of the following insects and try to guess how they use them: preying mantis, water beetle, cricket, bee, dung beetle, ant, mole cricket.

You may use the activity leaflet (VP activity leaflet ΕΝ.pdf) to better understand the pathway.

Support or guidance available during the visit (optional)

  • Combine your observations with the info you may find in the Educational Material in the VP Repository (


Any other relevant information (optional)

  • Let’s imagine you create an organism: Describe it, draw it, give it a scientific name, and provide information about its life history, e.g., habitat, life span, feeding behaviour, body size, any special character, etc.
  • Try to answer the questions:
  1. Why is it so important to classify the living organisms
  2. By observing their body structures, can you tell which insect of the following image is nocturnal and whisch diurnal?

Post-visit (3 hours)

Follow-up activities and materials

  1. Make a list of the weirdest animals you can think of. Why do they seem strange to you?
  2. How does the grandmother recognize her chickens, the shepherd his sheep or the fisherman the fish he catches? Discuss the reasons and exchange views.
  3. Collaborate with your school’s foreign language teachers and look for the names of different animals in other languages. Also consult them to find the interpretation of their scientific name (in Latin).
  4. Prepare a debate e.g., on “circus or zoo animals”. Prepare the script, the rules, divide the roles and let the discussion ignite …. On a worksheet, record the remarks or the difficulties you encountered.
  5. Write a text with Animal Rights and post it on the internet. Get inspired by the principles of Animalism in George Orwell’s book, The Animal Farm (


Sustainable contact

All the resources will be available in the project’s repository ( and in the NHMC-UOC site (


  1. Επιστήμονες της φύσης: Συστηματικός Βιολόγος– Scientists of Nature: Systematic Biologist


My name is Julie and I am a biologist. Along with many other scientists, I am trying to put all the organisms that live on our planet into order. There are more than 50 million plant and animal species. Only 2 million of them have their own name. Scientists like us are trying to name the new species which we discover.

For example, the latin name of the Mediterranean seal is Monachus monachus, which means “monk–seal” because of its dark color that looks like a monk’s robe and its thick neck, that looks like a monk’s hood.

We will never know exactly how many species live on the earth because many of them will disappear before we even get to know them.

It is very interesting to learn about other organisms that are so different from you, but which also have so much in common with you. Have you ever thought that a lizard has 5 fingers on its hand just like you, and that a whale breathes air just like you, or that a bird has feathers just like you have hair?

In our laboratory we give names to new organisms, knowing that they are all members of a big family with common ancestors in the very distant past.

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VIRTUAL PATHWAYS is a project funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union (REF: 2020-1-FI01-KA226-SCH-092545). The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.