Academic journal article The American Biology Teacher

What Makes Us Human?

Academic journal article The American Biology Teacher

What Makes Us Human?

Article excerpt

This activity explores the question "What makes us human?" In this research-based activity, students will discuss cards and place them into three piles.

The piles are to be:

* HUMANS ONLY

* OTHER ANIMALS

* NOT SURE

Instructions

1. Deal the cards so that each person in the group of three or four students gets several cards.

2. Each member reads one card at a time.

3. The group discusses the card at length. For example, "Committing suicide." Are humans the only creatures who commit suicide? Do other animals do it? What about beached whales? Is that a form of suicide? What about lemmings? What about a bird who has lost its mate and will stay by it and refuse to eat? These are just a few of the discussions students raise. (Note: Beached whales are not a form of suicide nor are lemmings. The entire notion of lemmings was derived from a Disney movie back in the 60s!)

4. Once students have discussed the entire deck, begin a class discussion.

5. Generally students are not sure about suicide, homosexuality, opposable thumbs, bipedality, emotions (of course, their dogs show emotions), and abstract thought. …

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