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Kansas State Fair
Steam Ahead

3rd Grade Science

Objective: Students to gain understanding of animal traits and how traits are influenced by environment. State Standards for Science 3.LS.3.1: Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence that animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms.

Materials: Paper and pencil

Student Challenge:
Analyze the animals in the birthing center and determine traits for each. Explain how traits can be influenced by the animal’s environment.

During your Kansas State Fair field trip, visit the Birthing Center (see fairgrounds map for building location). Students should observe each animal on display and listen to the birthing center veterinarians during their animal talks. Students can also read the information and signage in the building to gain information and ask questions of the birthing center veterinarians. Have students make a list of traits for each animal and determine if they think they are inherited traits or variation of traits and what in the animal’s environment might have caused the variation. The next day in class have students split into groups and do a presentation for the class about the traits of each animal they analyzed. Students could also make inferences on how they think this animal would adapt if its environment was changed.

Traits and characteristics can result in individual’s interactions with the environment which can range from diet to learning. Many traits involve both inheritance and environment. Cause and effect relationships are routinely identified and used to explain change. Examples of the environment affecting a trait could include: a pet dog that is given too much food and little exercise may become overweight; Himalayan rabbit in cold temperatures will have pigmentation on its ears, nose and feet where the body loses the most heat where a Himalayan rabbit in warmer temperatures will not have any pigmentation.

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