“Explore Your Inner Animals” is a free science-education resource from the Biointeractive website of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) (http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/explore-your-inner-animals). This visually appealing interactive enables students to explore anatomical structures of the human body and discover what they tell us about evolution and our relationship to other species – even some animals that are now extinct.
In the Summary window, click “Start Click and Learn” or click the play-video arrow on the image to the left. This opens a screen with small silhouettes of several species, and a larger outline of a human body with a visible skeleton, that “walks” into position on the screen! Slide the green “Button” just below to rotate the body right or left. Certain skeletal areas glow (subtly) as the body turns. Click the glowing area you want to learn about, and “meet your inner animal.”
For example: Clicking on the eye highlights the silhouette of a primate, and displays text about the origins of human color vision, as well as a short video on studying color vision in squirrel monkeys – including the underlying genetics. Below the video screen, click “Next” to learn more about the eyes in our fishy ancestors, in fossils, and in early primates. A convenient “Previous” button lets you return to information you’d like to see again. Click the glowing area on the upper leg to learn how our ancestors walked, and see a video about an early hominid find in Ethiopia; then click “Next” again for more about how human skeletons changed to walk upright. Tired of walking? Why not click the skeleton’s lower back to find out when our ancestors lost their tails!
You can also download Teacher Materials and a 5-page student worksheet for homework or class. The teaching materials offer guidance about the Standards that are met in various curricula, as well as teaching tips, related resources, and an answer key for student worksheets.
“Explore Your Inner Animals” exposes students to skeletal structures, comparative anatomy, and evidence for common descent. The video for each body area provides glimpses into the life of research scientists, the questions they ask, and how they pursue the answers. Student worksheets have separate sections for each body system, enabling a teacher or student to focus on only a few systems, or all those included in this interactive. The worksheets are suitable for classwork or homework, and use open-ended questions that encourage students to think, such as: “How do these … work?” or “Explain why …” or “What is the advantage …” Put together by a highly respected research institute, these materials are informative, dependable, and a great learning resource for students and teachers alike!
About the Creators:
“Biointeractive” is an outreach of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which supports science education through free resources available to teachers online and through annual workshops at schools, conferences, and professional meetings. Educators field-test the resources and provide feedback. Materials include short films, holiday lectures, virtual labs, classroom resources, teacher guides, and Click & Learns – tutorials on specific topics with video clips, animations, and images – which complement topics covered in HHMI’s Holiday Lectures and short films.