Introduction & Purpose

Classification and Taxonomy Pathfinder
Scientists have already identified 2 million different species that have lived on Earth and estimates of the number of total species to have ever lived on Earth range from 5 to 100 million! How do scientists identify each different species and keep all of their names straight?  They classify organisms using a science called taxonomy.
Taxonomists classify organisms based on certain characteristics and use a naming system known as binomial nomenclature to assign unique names to each and every organism ever identified.  The process can seem confusing at first, but once you understand the steps to classifying an organism you’ll be able to begin classifying on your own!

Your goal is to use this pathfinder to help you learn about how and why scientists classify organisms.  This Classification and Taxonomy Pathfinder is composed of resources that are directly related to the study of classification and taxonomy.  Each resource was chosen because its explanations, graphics and activities are appropriate for teen student researchers.  You’ll find sections for websites, videos, reference material and activities.  There is also a page for your teachers, so don’t be surprised if you’re using this pathfinder to complete a classroom activity or assignment!

For some of you, this will be your first experience with classification or taxonomy and for others you may have studied this topic before and are ready for very specific resources.  Both these types of resources can be found here.  Many of the websites you’ll find within this pathfinder introduce general information and link to more specific areas for further research.  The videos and references areas are great too!

You might be wondering, “Why can’t I just use my textbook?”  Classification and taxonomy involve some very big and confusing words.  The best way to become more comfortable with these new words and ideas is to use visuals, view lots of examples and be able to interact with games and activities.  You’ll find that the resources within this pathfinder were selected to help you stay focused and involved in your learning.  Good luck on your classification adventure!