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Classifying Seeds Lab

Classifying Seeds Lab

Purpose: To find out how to develop a classification system for beans and what characteristics can be used.

Hypothesis: If we look at a cluster of beans/seeds, then we will be able to classify them into different groups.

Materials: Paper/plastic cup

Various different seeds or beans, 8 each of 8 different types of seeds recommended

Tray (optional)

Metric Ruler (optional)


Procedures: 1. Get a cup containing 8 different types of beans/seeds with 8 of each type.

2. Then, carefully pour the beans/seeds onto a tray (if you have one)

3. After that, think of a characteristic that will divide all the beans/seeds into two large groups, each group containing seeds with generally similar characteristics.

4. Place the beans/seeds into two separate piles based on the characteristic that was chosen.

5. Now, working with one of the large groups, divide the seeds in that group into two smaller groups.

6. Afterwards, continue to divide the seeds into smaller groups by choosing new characteristics. Eventually, you should have only one seed left in each group.

7. Next, repeat this process with the other large group.

8. In the Observations section, draw a diagram that represents your classification system.

Observations: Here is my classification system for the beans:


Conclusions: This lab was one in which I learned what different characteristics separate a particular amount of seeds into different groups. For example, by characterizing the seeds into large seeds and small seeds, it separated into about half and half. By looking at a cluster of seeds, I was able to classify them into different groups and they were somewhat specific. For all of the groups, it ended with the smallest of each group as the most specific seed, or the species.

It was very interesting how I made my classification system and it was pretty fun. I was able to see what different the groups branched out into more specific groups and see which family a specific bean was in, either the large or small family.

Answers to Questions:

Q #1: How many groups are in your classification system?

A: I have twelve groups in my classification system. The two large groups, then there are the two smaller groups (6 total groups), then it separates into even more specific types of seeds (9 total groups), then the same type of beans (12 total groups), and it equals to twelve, excluding the specific groups of one. If I was counting the individual groups, it would be 20 total.

Q #2: What are some of the characteristics of your seeds?

A: Some characteristics of my seeds include light, dark, spotted, wrinkly, coffee-colored, yellow, white, and black-eyed. Other characteristics include big, small, and different shapes like curved, round, oval-shaped, and circular.

Q #3: How does a classification system help you to better understand organisms?

A: A classification system helps you better understand organisms because you could see which groups the organisms fit into. Also, you could see what other organisms are related to a specific organism and can get a better understanding of its origin. You could see which group(s) it fits into and what other organisms also fit into there.

Q #4: How is this investigation similar to the way in which scientists classify organisms?

A: This investigation is similar to the way in which scientists classify organisms because we are putting different things into a classification system. Just like the scientists, we are making our own classification systems based on individual characteristics of beans instead of organisms.

Q #5: When classifying organisms, is it better to go from general characteristics to specific characteristics or from specific characteristics to general characteristics? Why?

A: When classifying organisms, it is better to go from general characteristics to specific characteristics because if you went straight to the specific characteristics, then you would have to make several different groups, each with its own specific traits. If you made it from general characteristics, then you would be able to see what general group the organism fits into rather than just one specific group and what family or genus it belongs to.

Q #6: What characteristics did you find most useful for classifying seeds?

A: I found the characteristics of the beans being big and small the most useful for classifying seeds. There were a cluster of beans that had this characteristic and it was easy to separate the beans into two general groups, large and small. Then, the lightness and darkness of the beans was useful since a few were light and a few were dark. I was able to classify them by that way too.

Q #7: Suppose you wanted to identify and classify all of the birds that came to a particular area of a pond during a spring day. What are some of the characteristics that you would use in classify the birds?

A: Some of the characteristics that I would use to classify the birds would be if they were light or dark, if they were big or small, and if they were male or female.

Q #8: Could you have classified your seeds by another classification system?

A: Yes because I could have at first made the big groups based on if they were light or dark. Then, I would classify it by size and then if they were very light or very dark. It would be the same except with the light and dark characteristics being first rather than big or small.

Q #9: Why do you think you had to classify each characteristic in groups of two rather than some other number of choices at each step?

A: I think that you had to classify each characteristic in groups of two because it is either one thing or the other. For example it has to be either light or dark, not anything in between. For classifying big and small things, nothing can be medium sized.


Going Further

Make a list of ten or more household appliances. Exchange your list with a classmate and classify the appliances into groups based on similar characteristics. Further classify the groups into more specific groupings. What characteristics did you use to classify these items into groups?

1.      Toaster

2.      Microwave

3.      Refrigerator

4.      Dishwasher

5.      Washing Machine

6.      Stove

7.      Oven

8.      Freezer

9.      Computer

10.  Pencil Sharpener


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