The sweet taste of taxonomy!

Picture: Escite Conference 2024

Michael Magee of the Natural History Museum of Denmark hosted a workshop at Escite conference in Ljubljana. The conference brings together educators in museums and science centers. New ways of inspiring interest in taxonomy are needed. One way to do this is to demonstrate how we classify species through a hands-on activity involving candy.

Participants are invited to classify candy any way they see fit. What happens is they create a rich array of very different tapestries. Each classification very different than the other. Some people group according to colour, size, or shape. Others group in more creative ways, telling stories of how one candy group gave rise to another. All ways of classification are correct. But the methods and explanations then lead us to talk about the four ways we can classify species. Through how they look (morphology), what they are made of (genealogy), what they do, (ecology) and their relation (phylogeny).

What’s fascinating from a facilitators perspective, is seeing how we all see the world differently through this exercise.

New ways of inspiring the next generation of #taxonomists are needed and this method hits the sweet spot 🍬


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