March Madness... Mammal Style

Tch Next Gen Science Squad

If you're a basketball fan, you've probably already filled out your bracket for March Madness. If you're a teacher (especially if you're a biology teacher), then you have to check out March Mammal Madness!

The bracket resembles that of the NCAA tournament, but instead of predicting who will score the most hoops, you must decide which mammal would win in simulated combat. For example, who would likely win a battle between a Tasmanian Devil and a Ghost Bat? To follow along with the battles follow #2018MMM or @2018MMMletsgo on Twitter, or check out the March Mammal Madness Facebook Page.

Dr. Katie Hinde, from Arizona State University, started the March Mammal Madness event in 2013. A group of scientists considers each species' attributes, including “temperament, weaponry, armor, body mass, running speed, fight style, physiology, and motivation” to determine the likely winner. See Arizona State’s March Mammal Madness: How to Play for more details and a list of K-12 friendly resources for animal background research.

This year’s bracket includes four categories:

  • Antecessors
  • When the Kat’s Away (non-mammals -- a new twist!)
  • Great Adaptations
  • Urban Jungle

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In my classroom, I’m currently focused on NGSS standards for natural selection:

HS-LS4-4 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations.

  • The bracket is a perfect way to get students thinking about specific animal adaptations. In addition, battles take place in varying environments, so students must consider how the natural environment may affect an animal’s performance.
  • I created a shared Google doc, in which each student is responsible for contributing background information about one species. We'll then use this information to make informed decisions when we fill out our brackets.

Be sure to pick your winners and complete your bracket before March 12th, when the wild card battle (Goldcrest vs. Praying Mantis) takes place!

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And the final results of the wild card battle are in -- #TeamPrayingMantis for the win!

Tune in on Wednesday for Round 1: The Great Adaptations Division.

Which animal would you pick to win it all? Share your choice in the comments below.

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It would be great to talk in person at NSTA! A number of Teaching Channel’s Next Gen Science Squad will be attending Science on My Mind, March 15 – March 18, 2018, where we’ll be learning with you and sharing our experiences. You can find us throughout the conference and at the NSTA Share-a-thon.

Until then, follow us by visiting our Deep Dive or by engaging with other blog posts from our NGSS Squadsters. And keep an eye out for our “Squad in Action” videos on Twitter: #NextGenSquadinAction. Sign up here to get support and resources from the Squad and let us know how we can help!

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Kathryn Davis is a science teacher in Hood River, Oregon. She has been teaching science for 14 years. Kathryn is a Stanford University, Washington University in St. Louis, and Teach For America alumni. She is an Oregon Science Project NGSS Learning Facilitator, Amgen Biotechnology Experience teacher, and received the Oregon Science Teacher’s Association “Outstanding Classroom Teaching Award” for High School. She is excited to be a part of Teaching Channel’s Tch Next Gen Science Squad. Connect with Kathryn on Twitter: @biokathryn.

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