11 week unit in which students design and sculpt an alien animal adapted to a specific Star Wars planet and identify its unique sequence of DNA by investigating ecology of different ecosystems, animal adaptations, and protein synthesis.
Video Description Of Project
- Star Wars interdisciplinary unit begins by watching all three original movies.
- Students study ecology connected to one planet from each movie.
- Groups sculpt their own alien animal specifically adapted to one of the Star Wars planets.
- Students investigate Transcription & Translation in order to identify their animal's unique DNA.
- Students work backwards through Transcription & Translation to figure out their alien animal’s unique DNA.
- Students prepare their alien animal sculptures and its DNA for an Expo by creating an information booklet.
- During Expo, students present their alien animal sculptures and its DNA to students and teachers.
- How are animals connected to the environments in which they live?
- Why do animals look the way they do?
Suggested Weekly Plan
Part 1: Star Wars Movies
- Before movies, students complete Star Wars KWL Chart
- Watch original three Star Wars Movies.
- Create an experience for the students.
- Set up chairs in rows in front of screen.
- Have a large screen or projector set up with good audio.
- Make Popcorn for the students!
- Viewing Guides: Character Chart 1 & Character Chart 2
- After each movie students complete the Movie Plot Point Worksheet
- After viewing all three movies students complete the Character Compare Contrast Worksheet
Part 2: Star Wars Ecology
- Have students choose one of the Star Wars Ecology documents using the Star Wars Planet Ecosystem Sign-up document.
- Make sure environments are evenly distributed.
- Guide students towards the document with appropriate ability level. Version (a) is easier than version (b)
- These documents are designed to:
- Familiarize students with the ecosystem characteristics.
- Learn about how animals on Earth are specifically adapted to the environment.
- Apply a critical eye to how the Star Wars alien animals are adapted to their environment.
- Develop an inventory of adaptations that will be used later when students design their own alien animals.
- Students create a Google Presentation or a Prezi about the information from their ecology document using the Star Wars Ecology Presentation Outline document
- In groups of three so that each individual has a unique environment, students teach each other about their environment using their presentation.
- Peer grading is done using the Adapted Presentation Rubric.
- Build the rubric with the class.
Photos of the Star Wars Planet Documents
Part 3: Create Star Wars Alien Animal
- In groups, students select an one of the three planet ecosystems their alien animal will be adapted to using the Star Wars Alien Animal Planet Sign-up document.
- Individually in groups, students develop their own alien animal designs with specific adaptations using the My Alien Animal and My Alien's Adaptations print-out documents.
- As a group, students design an alien animal specifically adapted to their planet's ecosystem using the Group Alien Animal and Group Alien's Adaptation print-out documents.
- Gather all items from Sculpting Materials document, and make easily accessible for students.
- Show and discuss horse armature photo 1 and horse armature photo 2. Show Sculpting Instructional Video part 1.
- Groups build armature of their alien animal and secure into wooden platform with hot glue gun.
Week 5 & 6
- Groups add bulk to armature using tinfoil and smoothly wrap foil with masking tape. Show Scultping Instructional Video part 2 to demonstrate.
- Before using clay, show students Clay Sculpting Tool Use video and the Sculpting Woman's Head video to demonstrate how they can turn clay into something beautiful.
- Show Sculpting Instructional Video part 3 to demonstrate how groups will be adding clay to the armature.
- Students add clay to the armature to build the body.
- Show Sculpting Instructional Video part 5 on how to build head and Sculpting Instructions Video part 6 on how to build wings.
- Students focus on building head and fine tuning other adaptations on body.
- Students develop a specific plan on how they will paint their alien animal, and varify with teacher. Students then paint alien animal.
Photo Depiction of How Students Built Their Alien Animals
Time Lapse Video
- While students sculpted their animals, they made a time lapse video showing the creation of their alien animal from start to finish.
- Students used JellyCam (free) to record their time lapse video.
- JellyCam is a program that creates time lapse videos by taking a photograph every two seconds using the computers camera.
- Students compiled all their time lapse video and edited down into a three minute video using iMovie.
- Students used the Star Wars Video document as a guide to edit their time lapse video.
Student Example 1
Student Example 2
Part 4: Protein Synthesis
To identify their alien animal's unique sequence of DNA, students investigate Transcription & Translation.
- To study transcription students used the Transcription Investigation document.
- The investigation is designed to be centered around student observation, questions, and self-guided research.
- Students make observations on a diagram of transcription.
- Then students develop their own questions.
- Then create a class list of questions by having students share out their questions.
- Highlight the research focus question: "What are the steps of Transcription?"
- Using the online resources provided in the document, students complete investigation.
- To check for understanding, have students demonstrate & explain the steps of transcription manipulating a magnetized protein synthesis kit.
- Have students identify the vocabulary, and complete the Vocabulary Chart document.
- For further vocabulary reinforcement have students do the Transcription Vocabulary Review Paragraph.
- Repeat same method of question development for the Translation Investigation document.
- The research focus question is: "What are the steps of Translation?"
- While students complete their investigation check for understanding using the magnetized protein synthesis kit.
- Have students identify vocabulary.
- Complete the Vocabulary Chart document and the Translation Vocabulary Review Paragraph.
- To review all vocabulary have students complete the Transcription & Translation Vocabulary Review Activity in groups of four.
Video Journal Mini Project
(Began after students completed Part 3 of the Star Wars Unit)
- Video journal prompt: "What is the most interesting thing about the Star Wars movies?"
- A small group of students collected responses from all our students and guests during the music project.
- The group used all the responses to create a mashup video using iMovie.
Part 5: Star Wars Alien Animal (continued)
Identify the DNA sequence of Star Wars alien animals
- Have students complete the Alien Animal Names & Adaptations document by creating a name for their animal and listing its adaptations.
- Student Example Alien Animal Names & Adaptations document
- Use the above document to create an inventory of adaptations and an arbitrary amino acid sequence for each trait.
- See the Amino Acid Chain & Adaptation Table Example document.
- Have groups use the Alien Animal DNA I.D. Guide print-out document to identify the DNA sequence of the their animal by working backwards through the steps of Translation & Transcription.
- Groups record their Animals DNA sequence on the Full DNA Strand print-out document. Laminate the DNA paper for each group.
- Create an Expo where students will share their alien animals with other teachers and students.
- Groups create an information booklet for the expo using Google Draw and Docs.
- Alien Showcase Booklet Information Guide document.
- Groups organize the individual work and determine presentation responsibility using the Star Wars Animal Expo Responsibility Sign-Up Template.
- Student Example Star Wars Art Expo Responsibility Sign-Up
- Provide students and guests with the Star Wars Alien Animal Expo Questions print-out document.
- Provide this document to groups before the Expo so they can prepare for the questions.