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Create a Creature

By Diane Luttner Catron


This activity is designed to serve as both an assessment of student knowledge and to give students the opportunity to pull the entire year of study together into one cohesive whole. It is to be used in place of a second semester final exam for either Biology I or Honors Biology classes. An oral presentation, a written paper, and a model or drawing are required.


I give a written genetics problem that the students work on individually on the first day of oral presentations. In the past, I have used a multi-part question involving blood groups and mixed up babies in the hospital. It is a question derived from the BSCS Blue Version test bank. The assignment is handed out on the first day of the last quarter of school. Students are given the last five days of the school year to work on the project in teams of two. They understand that this project will be their final semester test grade for the course. In addition to the regular textbook for the class, supplemental books are provided for student use during class time: anatomy and physiology books, an assortment of AP textbooks, other biology I texts, and an assortment of invertebrate and vertebrate zoology books, botany books, etc.

The coloring book series put out by Harper Collins Publishers is especially helpful to students. Students are allowed to check books out for use after school, on the condition that they be returned before first period the next day. All of the written papers are collected on the same day. The oral reports are spread out over a two to three day period, including the day assigned for the final exam. In our school we usually have a 2 1/2 hour time block set aside for the final, so we use this time for most of the reports. The others are presented before the assigned final test time. Feedback from parents and students indicate that this is a favorite and valuable project.

Many students feel that it makes the entire year come together for them and make sense. It gives students the opportunity to learn what they did not grasp the first time around. This project is a combination of student requests for a project final and ideas that have been floating around for years. The name is borrowed from the Science World contest.


  1. Design and build or draw or bake a creature of your choice, using the criteria below.
  2. Present your creature to the class during the last week of school on a day to be announced. Use the information listed in the evaluation section as a guideline for organization of your oral report.
  3. Turn in a written paper using the format listed below.


Your project must show mastery of these concepts:
  1. Creature's habitat, including biome
  2. Creature's method of getting energy: respiration, fermentation, or photosynthesis --and an explanation of how that method works. Identify your creature as a producer or consumer; predator or prey species; where it is on the food pyramid. Draw its food web. Construct a food chain for one item of the creature's diet.
  3. Special behavior of the creature.
  4. Special interactions is may have with its fellow species mates. Include type of population structure.
  5. Describe major body systems and explain how they work. Required: circulatory, respiratory, digestive, excretory, skeletal, and nervous systems.
  6. Identify and explain method of reproduction
  7. Identify genetic material and explain how it is copied and passed from one generation to the next.
  8. Discuss genetic aspects of creature: Number of chromosomes, genetic disorders found in species, sex-linked traits, etc.
  9. Choose one trait that this creature has and tell whether it is dominant or recessive. Draw a pedigree for that trait for your creature that shows at least three generations and 10 individuals. Be prepared for me to ask you to do a difficult, multiple allele, codominance genetics problem on the first day of the oral presentations.
  10. Tell about this species' ancestors and how this species developed from them. Use terms such as migration, genetic isolation, geographic isolation, adaptation, gene flow, genetic drift, mutation, natural selection, etc.


Underlined items should appear as major headings in the paper.
Title page: Project name, class name, date, and your name.
Introductory paragraph
Ecology: include items 1-4 above
Body Systems: include items 6-9 above
Change Over Time: Item 10 above


Everyone will use the following evaluation form to grade others, so keep your presentation and paper in this order! Points will be awarded for everything below. If you have it and it is correct, you will receive full points, otherwise you will not receive full points.


  • Habitat
  • Biome
  • Energy source Explanation of process
  • Producer/consumer
  • Food Web
  • Food Chain
  • Energy/ Food Pyramid
  • Behaviors
  • Population structure
  • Body Systems

  • Circulatory
  • Respiratory
  • Digestive
  • Excretory
  • Skeletal
  • Nervous
  • Reproduction and Genetics

  • Method of Reproduction
  • Chromosome number
  • Genetic Disorder
  • Sex-linked Trait
  • Pedigree
  • Changes over Time

  • Ancestors (fossil record)
  • Migration
  • Isolation
  • Adaptation
  • Gene flow
  • Other
  • Miscellaneous

  • Model/drawing
  • Creativity shown in project
  • Accuracy
  • Other

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