Virtual Science Teachers

LSS1-4: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures that increase the odds of reproduction

Select a bell ringer question to scroll down to the corresponding question displayed with an image.

Beautiful puffy dandelion and flying seeds against blue sky on sunny day

What specialized structures of a dandelion increase its odds of reproduction?

Explain why dandelions can spread very quickly.

Close-up photo of a Honey Bee gathering nectar and

What specialized structures of the white cherry tree blossom increase its odds of reproduction?

During the winter months, humpback whales leave their feeding grounds in cold waters and migrate to warmer waters near the equator for breeding and calving. 

During the summer months, humpback whales migrate back to the colder waters near the poles to feed. 

Credit: Ron Watkins / Ocean Image Bank

How does the migration of humpback whales increase their odds of reproduction?

Coral can reproduce sexually by releasing gametes (reproductive cells) into water during mass spawning events.  They can also reproduce asexually by through budding, where a single coral polyp is divided into two or more genetically identical offspring.

Here a coral with polyps exposed releases sperm into the water

Explain why it’s an advantage for coral to be able to reproduce sexually and asexually.

Common Misconceptions

Misconceptions identified by Open AI ChatGPT

  • Corals are plants: Many students believe that corals are plants because they have a stationary and branch-like appearance. However, corals are actually animals and belong to the phylum Cnidaria, which also includes jellyfish and sea anemones.
  • Coral reefs are just rocks: Students may think that coral reefs are simply rock formations or geological structures. However, coral reefs are actually living ecosystems that are composed of coral colonies, algae, and a variety of other marine organisms.
  • All coral reefs look the same: Students may have a stereotypical image of what a coral reef looks like, such as a colorful and vibrant tropical reef. However, coral reefs can vary widely in appearance, from fringing reefs near shorelines to deep-sea coral communities.
  • Corals can survive in any water conditions: Some students may assume that corals are hardy and can survive in any water conditions. However, corals are sensitive to changes in water temperature, salinity, and quality, and can be negatively impacted by human activities such as pollution, overfishing, and coastal development.
  • Coral reefs don’t have any ecological value: Students may not realize the importance of coral reefs as habitats for a diverse range of marine species, as well as their role in protecting shorelines from erosion and storm damage, and their value as tourist destinations and sources of income for local communities.
  • Corals reproduce only asexually: Some students may believe that corals can only reproduce asexually through fragmentation or budding, and may not realize that sexual reproduction is also a critical part of the coral life cycle.

  • Corals can only reproduce with the same colony: Some students may think that corals can only reproduce with individuals from the same colony, and may not realize that corals are capable of cross-fertilization with nearby colonies during mass spawning events.

  • All coral colonies spawn at the same time: Students may assume that all coral colonies spawn at the same time during mass spawning events, but in reality, different species of corals may spawn at different times or on different lunar cycles.

  • Coral larvae can settle anywhere: Some students may think that coral larvae can settle on any substrate and grow into an adult colony, but in fact, the settlement and survival of coral larvae depend on a variety of environmental factors, including water quality, temperature, and available habitat.

School of thousands of fish
Credit: Jeff Hester / Ocean Image Bank Download

Why do you think fish swim in big schools like shown in the image above?

How does this behavior increase the odds that the fish population will thrive?

Close-up of Blue Robin Eggs in a Nest in a Tree
Close-up of Blue Robin Eggs in a Nest in a Tree
Baby Robins in Nest

What do robin parents do to increase the odds that its offspring survive?

Kangaroos give birth to relatively undeveloped young. At birth, a kangaroo joey is only about the size of a jellybean, and its eyes, ears, and limbs are not fully developed.

Kangaroo and Joey

Why do you think a kangaroo mother carries her young joey in her pouch?

How does this increase the odds that the young joey will grow up strong and healthy?