There are abundant and diverse species found on Earth. It becomes difficult for a person to identify or classify them based on their characteristics and scientific name. In such cases, one of the tools that come into play is a dichotomous key which is a scientific tool that can be used to identify an unknown organism easily. How to make a dichotomous key? To know how to create a dichotomous key, conduct a small science experiment for kids so that they can create it in an interesting way.
- What is a Dichotomous Key?
- Easy Science Project: How to Make a Dichotomous Key?
- Benefits of Learning about How to Make a Dichotomous Key
- Frequently Asked Questions on How to Make a Dichotomous Key?
Most students and scientists around the world use dichotomous keys to identify and classify organisms. It can be either animals, plants, microorganisms or people. A dichotomous key makes it easier to characterize species or an organism based on their traits. This helps in identifying the objects by answering a series of questions that are divided into two parts. The questions will continue till you identify the organism. How to make a dichotomous key? Kids must learn the concept of making a dichotomous key from an early age so that they can understand and gain knowledge on different organisms that they are trying to identify.
What is a Dichotomous Key?
It is a key that helps in identifying and classifying organisms based on their characteristics. It helps in understanding the scientific concept related to organisms. This is one of the most used tools for students and scientists in identifying different types of organisms. It provides steps with two choices based on the characteristics of an organism. The steps will give a clear idea about the organism that you are trying to identify. The most important factors that you need to keep in mind while creating a dichotomous key are physical and quantitative factors. The dichotomous key can be created in the form of a flowchart or a written statement. Most commonly, plants and animals are used for identification. The use of dichotomous keys makes it easier for learners to identify organisms.
It is important for children to learn the classification of organisms in the field of biology because it helps them understand the similarities and differences between organisms. Creating a dichotomous key helps children identify unknown organisms in a simple way. The keys give you two choices that describe the organisms based on their characteristics. With the help of these two choices, you move on to the next set of questions. We can say that dichotomous keys come in handy when the two organisms are similar, and you need to classify them. Children must learn how to make a dichotomous key and identify organisms in order to improve their scientific knowledge. Sometimes, long texts and speeches can make children confused about the organism that they are learning. In such cases, a dichotomous key plays an important role in making their learning easier.
Fun Facts about a Dichotomous Key
Some of the interesting facts about a dichotomous key are mentioned below:
- It consists of two choices or options in each step.
- The main objective of a dichotomous key is to help in identifying and classifying species in order to come to a conclusion about the unknown organisms.
- It is used primarily to identify plants and animals.
- The word dichotomous means two parts in the Greek language.
- Each step of the key provides two choices followed by another clue and another till you identify the organisms.
- The steps included in a dichotomous key is based on how many characteristics of an organism you have got.
- It appears in the form of a flowchart with images and text.
- It helps in identifying and classifying organisms based on their traits and characteristics.
- It is also referred to as a branching tree.
- It can also be written in the form of text as statements.
- It helps in understanding complex scientific concepts in an effective way.
- The information of a dichotomous key is made easier for users to understand about the organisms.
- It helps in answering a series of questions based on the characteristics of an organism.
Easy Science Project: How to Make a Dichotomous Key?
To teach children how to identify unknown organisms, you can help them create a dichotomous key. How to make a dichotomous key? To learn about the process, let us dive into some of the easy steps to create a dichotomous key given below.
Steps to Make a Dichotomous Key
Learning to make a dichotomous key helps children classify or identify the organism in a systematic way. To create a dichotomous key, you can make a flowchart that consists of questions or choices that you need to choose from. This helps them in providing clues or options based on the traits or characteristics of an organism. Check out the steps to make a dichotomous key given below.
Step 1: Explore the specimen
In this step, you need to explore the organism that you want to identify. Look for the organisms that you are unfamiliar with. This will help you in creating a dichotomous key and identifying the organisms in a systematic way. Before creating a dichotomous key, you need to keep the things in your mind, such as consider one characteristic at a time, try to incorporate physical characteristics in order to identify the organism easily, do not repeat the characteristics, use similar words in the questions like does it have scales or don’t have scales etc.
Step 2: Write down the traits and characteristics of an organism
Before creating a dichotomous key, you need to list down the traits and characteristics of an organism that you want to identify. In the beginning, try to identify the physical characteristics of an organism followed by quantitative traits.
Step 3: Organize the questions in order
Here, you need to keep the general and most obvious characteristics at first and then move on to the unique characteristics that you find in an organism. This helps you in relating with the species that have the same characteristics.
Step 4: Divide the questions with a choice
In this step, you can divide the questions based on the physical characteristics. For example, does it have fur? Yes or No. If yes, it will be a mammal, and if not, then you can add another question.
Step 5: Divide the questions even further
Based on the primary characteristics of the species, subdivide the characteristics based on the answer you got from the first question. For example, does it have feathers? If yes, the answer is a bird, and if not, then you can add another question like does it have dry skin. Similarly, you will continue to subdivide the questions until you have identified all the characteristics of an organism.
Step 6: Draw a dichotomous key
To create a dichotomous key, you can use graphical representations of information in the form of a flowchart. Besides this, you can even include an image of the species that you are identifying. You need to make sure that the dichotomous key is short, understandable and visually appealing so that it becomes easy for children to identify the unknown species.
Benefits of Learning about How to Make a Dichotomous Key
Some of the benefits of learning about how to make a dichotomous key are mentioned below:
- Enables children to identify an organism that they are not familiar with.
- Allows children to classify an organism based on its characteristics.
- Enhances the learning experience of children.
- Helps non-experts to identify the species or an organism in a systematic way.
- Enables children to identify the species by answering a series of questions.
- Helps in gaining scientific knowledge on plants, animals and other organisms.
- Increases confidence to learn and understand the species that they are studying.
- Develop observational and critical thinking skills while creating a dichotomous key.
- Helps in understanding the taxonomy of organisms.
- Develops decision-making skills while choosing the two questions that describe the unknown species.
- Creates a fun learning environment for children.
- Develops organizational skills in children.
- Enables children to understand complex scientific concepts easily.
Frequently Asked Questions on How to Make a Dichotomous Key?
How to make a dichotomous key?
To make a dichotomous key, you need to list down the characteristics of an organism, divide the question into two parts, then subdivide the questions even further until you identify the specimen.
What are the benefits of learning about how to make a dichotomous key?
The benefits of learning about how to make a dichotomous key are that it helps children in identifying and classifying unknown organisms. It helps in understanding the scientific concept in an effective way. Most importantly, it develops creativity, observational and organizational skills in children.