Science Explorations
Classify Insects

Grade Level: 6-10

Classify This!
Become a member of the fieldwork team and classify the animals you find.

  1. Discuss the concept of scientific classification before students start the activity.
  2. In Classify This! students use visual and informational clues (accessed by selecting the question mark on each card) to put an assortment of animals into four groups: vertebrates, arachnids, complete metamorphosis insects, and true bugs.
  3. Once students have classified the animals, they will see the same information represented in an Organizational Outline (PDF).
  4. Students can play the interactive multiple times to find different animals. They then use the information they’ve collected to complete an online quiz.

Quiz Answer Key
1. All of the following are true of true bugs except:
Answer: C. They are difficult to find in the wild.
Eighty percent of all species on Earth are insects and there are more than 40,000 different species of true bugs in the world.

2. Which of the following is not a difference between arachnids and insects?
Answer: B. Arachnids fly; insects crawl
Arachnids don’t have wings, so they don’t fly, but most adult insects have wings to fly.

3. If an animal doesn’t have a backbone it’s
Answer: A. An invertebrate
An animal with an exoskeleton, or external skeleton, has no internal backbone so it’s an invertebrate.

4. If an animal goes through a pupal stage, it
Answer: B. Goes through complete metamorphosis
The pupal stage is one phase of development for an insect going through complete metamorphosis.

5. Which of these is a characteristic of all true bugs?
Answer: B. They have sucking mouthparts
Along with stink glands, sucking mouthparts are an identifying characteristic of all true bugs.

6. True bug is to insect as
Answer: B. Human is to mammal
All true bugs are insects, but not all insects are true bugs. Likewise all humans are mammals, but not all mammals are humans.

7. The term for a scientist who works with insects is
Answer: A. Entomologist
An entomologist is a scientist who specializes in studying insects.

8. A Venn diagram is a good way to show how different animal groups
Answer: C. Both of the above
Venn diagrams are useful for both comparing and contrasting information.

9. True bugs make up a scientific group that includes:
Answer: B. Some insects
Insects that have specific characteristics like sucking mouthparts and stink glands are categorized as true bugs.

10. When an animal has hands, it probably also has
Answer: C. A backbone
The presence of hands is a good clue that an animal probably has a backbone.

11. Humans are
Answer: A. Vertebrates
Humans have backbones so they are vertebrates.

12. An animal that has a complete metamorphosis goes through all these stages except:
Answer: A. Gland stage
The pupal and larval stages are two phases of development for an insect going through complete metamorphosis.

13. Stink glands and sucking mouthparts are both characteristics of
Answer: B. True bugs
True bugs are characterized by possessing stink glands and sucking mouthparts and by having incomplete metamorphosis.

14. The best way to tell the difference between insects is through
Answer: C. Both of the above
Entomologists are always observing the natural world around them, but the eyes can deceive, it’s important to combine analysis with observation to be successful.

15. All true bugs are insects but…
Answer: C. Not all insects are true bugs.
All true bugs belong in the category of insects, but there are some insects — like butterflies and ants — that are not true bugs.

Take the “Name-a-Bug” Challenge
Create the perfect name for a true bug.

  1. Now that students understand what makes a true bug, they can use their knowledge to create a common name for a true bug.
  2. Explain that while all discovered bugs have scientific names, relatively few have a common name (like “stink bug,” “water strider,” or “bedbug”).
  3. Once students submit their common name, they can print out a “newspaper article” featuring their accomplishment.

Use articles and photos to look closely at insects.

  1. Students now have a solid base of information and are ready to explore on their own. Choose one or more of the questions to investigate and have students begin researching their answers using the provided photos and articles.
  2. Hand out copies of a blank Venn Diagram (PDF) to help students organize information as they compare and contrast tools in the field versus tools in the lab or animal life cycles.
  3. Supply copies of the Idea Web (PDF) for students exploring the useful roles insects play.

Lesson Extensions
For offline activities that encourage self-directed inquiry, check out Backyard Science.

Follow Up Thinking
Continue student discussion with these questions.

  • What other animals would fit into the groups in the Classify This! activity (e.g. other vertebrates and invertebrates)?
  • Entomologists use tools that are very basic (such as a net) and highly complex (such as a Scanning Electron Microscope). What are other kinds of tools and equipment used in science? What kind of tool would you invent to aid science?
  • What kinds of insects live in your environment? What useful roles might they perform? What do you know about them and what can you find out?
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