In keeping with our school's philosophy of an integrated approach to teaching through all grade levels, the Science Department recently welcomed the two Grade 1 classes for a special introduction to the Origin of Life on Earth.
Dr Erard welcomed the students to the Biology lab and proceeded to describe the origin of the earth and the appearance of the first unicellular life form. He walked the students through the evolutionary process that led to the appearance of news species through slow and incremental changes over a very long time. Students were informed that the big idea behind the session would be: "One Big Family".
Students got the opportunity to look at some evidence showing the similarities between organisms by observing cell structures of a number of different organisms such as bacteria, animals, and plants, through a microscope.
To put things into context, students then looked at a graphical timescale of human evolution over the past 300,000 years, and then were given some perspective of the entire process by stretching this timeline to 3.8 million years. Each student was given a magnetic card showing the image of a living organism, along with information about its taxonomy and age, and they were given the task of finding its place on the timescale projected on the board.
Students were surprised to realize that all-time favorite dinosaurs like brachiosaurus tyrannosaurus never actually had to fight each other since they were separated by a whopping 83 million years. This is more than the time that separates tyrannosaurus and us! What a surprise to realize that ubiquitous reptiles actually both preceded, and survived the mighty dinosaurs!
To reinforce the notion, students were given the change to look at another hard (literally!) piece of evidence in the form of fossils from leaves, fish, and ammonite, some of the very organisms that they had just placed on the timescale.
In conclusion, students took a few minutes to put what they had just learned in the context of this year's school motto: "I Am, We Are", and to realize that indeed, we as humans are part of the same big family of all living things that have populated the earth during its long history.