The science process skills are the strategies and processes used in the field of many different scientific studies, experiments, and research projects. One of the most useful science process skills is called classification. Classification involves organizing things into different categories based on predetermined characteristics.
Classification is used for several different reasons. It can prevent things or new information from getting lost, it helps in recognizing similarities or differences between things, and it increases the awareness of how things may be related to one another. It is the basis for all concept formation, which helps give a better and clearer understanding of the things being classified or grouped together.
There are three stages of classification. There is the single stage, multistage, and serial ordering. Each of the stages may be used together or separately depending on the need for scientific experiments, processes, or research studies.
The single stage refers to the separation of objects into two or more subsets based on something that can be observed, that is, using one or more of the five senses. For example, clouds can be classified into three basic groups such as cumulus, stratus, and cirrus. Binary classification is part of the single stage and sorts objects into two groups, whether it has or does not have a certain property, such as liquids and nonliquids.
Multistage separates items into two or more subsets, which is then repeatedly sorted. Several layers of stages can be created. A classic example is animal classification because it is multilayered. For instance, vertebrates can be separated into reptiles, birds, mammals, fish, and amphibians. Then, birds can be classified again into more subsets such as migrating or not, flyers or not, etc. The other vertebrates can also be further classified.
Ordering objects based on the extent of a single property such as age, weight, size, etc., is called serial ordering. For example, trees can be placed in order based on their average height, from tallest to smallest or smallest to tallest, or could be sorted by the circumference of their trunks. Rocks can also be ordered from lightest to heaviest, or food from sweetest to most sour; or the planets of the solar system from coldest to hottest or smallest to largest.
The most familiar use for classification is the biological classification of plants and animals. There are seven major levels of classification and every major living organism can be classified. For humans, the top level of classification is the species, homo sapiens, but people are also a part of the Animal Kingdom, the Chordata Phylum, Mammal Class, and so on. Humans are in the same class as other mammals, such as lions, tigers, and bears.
Other examples of classification include the Periodic Table of Elements, solids, liquids, and gases, and many other common things. A person can practice classification by using the people, places, and things observed each day.
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