Shape of Life is series of FREE, short classroom videos that beautifully explore the evolution of the animal kingdom on planet earth. Students and educators from all over the world explore animal adaptation, animations, and behaviors along with the amazing scientists who bring their stories to life. You'll also find a rich selection of NGSS aligned materials including lesson plans, readings, illustrations and activities that inspire you to delve deeper into the phyla that explains so much of our existence.
This Month, We're All About Chordates!
BONES, BRAWN & BRAINS: The Voyage to Us
We've got a lot to learn from larvaceans, our featured chordate, but don't take our word for it. Explore the productive larvacean, the scientist who teach us about this incredible creature and even more chordate material highlighted in our new resources and features.
Every time we go to the National Conference for the National Science Teachers Association we become inspired and stoked about our work. It’s the one-on-one conversations we have with science teachers that brings us the greatest satisfaction.
One such conversation was with Barbara Shannon. Currently, Barbara is the Director of STEM Education for Synergy Academics whose mission is to create solutions that eliminate the achievement gap. But, before that, Barbara spent many years teaching science to kids in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
Where Engineering Meets Science
When Kakani asked her engineer grandfather what direction she should explore in her education, he replied, “well, civil engineering is about concrete, and that can get boring. So, aerospace seems like a good idea.”
And so began an incredible journey from championship figure skating to groundbreaking discoveries of our oceans and how much we have to learn from larvaceans. Larvaceans, our featured chordate, are a vital part of the food web. Through Dr. Kakani Katija’s research we have learned just how pervasive plastics are in our oceans.
“Really, I want to develop tools that will help science discovery explode.”
- Dr. Kakani Katija
Slipper snails live in the intertidal where they attach to a rock or often the shell of another snail. Are these snails male or female, or first one then the other? The answer is yes to all those questions. Slipper snails start life as males and change to female. This strategy is called sequential hermaphroditism. These snails change sex when they reach a certain size, depending on the sexes of the other slipper snails around.
Bones, Brawn & Brains
By Nancy Burnett, Founder of Shape of Life
While working on the original PBS Shape of Life series, I learned about the discovery of fossil animals that first appeared during the Cambrian Explosion. When I realized that the most famous Cambrian site is in the Burgess Shale of British Columbia, I knew I had to visit it.
There are now several sites where the Burgess Shale can be accessed. The original fossil sites, the Walcott Quarry and Mt. Stephens, are very long hikes. So, when my friend Burt told me there’s a new site that’s an easy hike, I was ready to go. The site is at Stanley Glacier, in Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, just a two-day drive from where we were. After driving through a lot of smoke from wildfires, we arrived in Radium Hot Springs, at the gate to the park. The next day we woke to a beautiful day – the smoke cleared by a rainstorm.
At time when investors and philanthropists are sinking tons of moola into Edtech, (growing from $75bn in 2014 to $120bn in 2019!), and development in adaptive learning, voice recognition, and machine learning is growing off-the-hook— I wonder what the long-term effect will be on the cultivation of life skills. You know, things like hooking a worm onto your fishing line.
Nothing can replace a tactile, personal relationship with the natural world...