Discover Classification

This hands-on session uses interactive voting software, live animals, real specimens and group tasks to help students understand the science of taxonomy (classifying living things).

Students will work together to classify a range of unusual invertebrates, discuss the importance of the binomial system to name organisms and learn more about how modern technologies have affected how organisms are classified today. Students will also learn about how classification is applied to the conservation work carried out by ZSL.

Please be aware that though we aim to use a live animal in this session, we do not guarantee that they will be present – animals can fall ill or be unwilling to be handled and their welfare is ZSL’s first priority.

Age: KS4 (14-16 year olds) Duration: 45mins Capacity: 35 students Indoor Session

Pupil looking at hissing cockroach

Intended learning outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  • Describe classification using: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species
  • Give an example of how to classify a species based on its similarities with other organisms
  • Explain how to name organisms using the binomial system and why scientists use it
  • Give an example of how modern technology has affected the classification of species
  • Understand the practical application of classification in conservation of species using the EDGE of Existence programme as an example


Online Teaching Resources:


Specification links:

    AQA GCSE Biology
    4.6 Inheritance, variation and evolution 4.6.4 Classification of living organisms
    • Traditionally living things have been classified into groups depending on their structure and characteristics in a system developed by Carl Linnaeus.
    • Linnaeus classified living things into kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species. Organisms are named by the binomial system of genus and species.
    • Students should be able to use information given to show understanding of the Linnaean system.
    • Students should be able to describe the impact of developments in biology on classification systems.
    • As evidence of internal structures became more developed due to improvements in microscopes, and the understanding of biochemical processes progressed, new models of classification were proposed.
    • Due to evidence available from chemical analysis there is now a ‘threedomain system’ developed by Carl Woese. In this system organisms are divided into:
      • archaea (primitive bacteria usually living in extreme environments)
      • bacteria (true bacteria)
      • eukaryota (which includes protists, fungi, plants and animals).


    OCR GCSE (9-1) Gateway Science Biology A
    Topic B5: Genes, inheritance and selection B5.2 Natural selection and evolution
    • B5.2b describe the impact of developments in biology on classification systems


    Edexcel GCSE (9-1) Biology
    Topic 4 – Natural selection and genetic modification
    • 4.7 Describe how genetic analysis has led to the suggestion of the three domains rather than the five kingdoms classification method