Students often have limited understanding of the major innovations in plant evolution. We developed a card sorting activity based on tree thinking that is suitable for students with a wide range of abilities and experience. Through this activity, students learn how scientists organize taxa into biologically meaningful, natural groups that illustrate important events in terrestrial plant evolution. The activity corresponds to several NGSS standards and is suitable for use in classroom or laboratory settings and as a public educational outreach activity.
The Botanical Phylo-Card Game addresses several components of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013) such as Inheritance/Variation in Traits (3-LS3-1, HS-LS3-1, HS-LS4-2) and Natural Selection/Evolution (MS-LS4-2, HS-LS4-1). The game involves disciplinary core ideas about biodiversity, evolution, and common ancestry; crosscutting concepts regarding identification and interpretation of patterns; and scientific practices of constructing explanations and engaging in arguments from evidence that can guide individualized implementation and assessment of the activity by different instructors.