Science Sampler: Using the Pokemon alphabet to teach classification and phylogenyby: Rolfe Freidenberg Jr.

Journal ArticleDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

Did you ever think you'd see the day when Pokemon would make an appearance in the classroom, and actually be allowed to stay? The activity described here teaches classification, phylogeny, and dichotomy using a set of pseudozoids (false animals), the Unown or Alphabet Pokemon. When students use familiar objects in creating dichotomous keys, they are able to learn from their prior knowledge. Extend an invitation to Pokemon into your classroom today, and teach these tough biological concepts effectively.

  • Middle
Publication Date

Community ActivitySaved in 115 Libraries

Reviews (3)
  • on Fri Apr 06, 2012 9:25 AM

This article explains how using pseudozo¬ids (false animals) in a classification activity is good because it can eliminate any prior knowledge about organisms and their similarities and differences. Interestingly research shows that using a dichotomous key can reinforces prior knowledge about similarities and differences of an organism. This author chooses to use the ‘Pokemon alphabet’ to describe several organisms. The alphabet, the classification and the worksheet are all provided in this article. This is a unique approach to teaching classification and phylogeny that would be fun for middle school students.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:24 PM

This article shows how to introduce middle school students to classification using pseudozoids (false animals). The author starts out by giving students a 20-question pretest to measure prior knowledge (available online). Days 2 and 3 consist of vocabulary familiarity, exploration of ways to sort and classify, and an introduction to dichotomous keys. On days 4 and 5 students begin working with the Unown (from Pokemon). They develop their own dichotomous keys and identify Unown species by their assigned genus and species names. The author stated that students understood binomial nomenclature, could classify organisms into groups based on structural similarities, could use a dichotomous key to identify an unknown organism, understood an evolutionary tree, and learned several levels of taxonomy. By using Pokemon phylogeny, the author provides an effective, fun way to approach this challenging biological concept.

Carolyn Mohr  (Buffalo Grove, IL)
Carolyn Mohr (Buffalo Grove, IL)

  • on Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:01 PM

This activity help students create a dichotomous key to understand how taxonomists determine how living things are classified and how evolutionary relationships are determined. The use of the Pokemon alphabet is ingenious because most students have some knowledge of Pokemon. It allows students to think like a taxonomist in a non-threatening way. It would be very suitable for middle school or younger high school students.

Ruth Hutson  (Westmoreland, KS)
Ruth Hutson (Westmoreland, KS)

Free - NSTA Members

$1.29 - Nonmembers

Login or Create a Free Account to add this resource to your library.