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Freshwater Mussels: Treasures Past and Present

Science, Grades K–12
Time required: 30 to 40 minutes

These little known but ecologically significant animals of Tennessee waters illustrate many topics in the life sciences, including ecology, life cycles, symbiotic relationships, scientific classification, and human uses and impacts upon natural populations, including extinction. Students observe features of mussel shells and infer organism characteristics, and play the “Guess My Name” game with shells.

Tennessee Science Curriculum

Standard 2, Interdependence; Standard 4, Heredity; Standard 5, Biodiversity and Change

  • K: Characteristics for survival. 0007.5.3
  • 1st: Life cycle of a freshwater mussel; habitats of freshwater mussels. 0107.4.1; 0107.5.2
  • 2nd: Habitats of freshwater mussels; food; life cycle; adaptations. 0207.2.1; 0207.3.1, 0207.4.1; 0207.5.2
  • 3rd: Life cycle; adaptations, threatened, endangered, extinct mussels. spi.0307.4.1; spi.0307.5.1, spi.0307.5.2
  • 4th: Predation and competition effects; relationship between reproduction and survival of species; adaptations, reasons for extinction. spi.0407.2.1; spi.0407.4.1; spi.0407.5.1, spi.0407.5.2
  • 5th: Nutritional relationships, human impacts; physical & behavioral adaptations. spi.0507.2.2, spi.0507.2.3, spi.0507.5.1
  • 6th: Material and energy transfer. spi.0607.2.2
  • 7th: Human impacts on water and mussels. spi.0707.7.7
  • 8th: Classification; predicting survival based on adaptations; importance of biodiversity. spi.0807.5.1, spi.0807.5.2, spi.0807.5.3
  • Biology I: Environmental factors and population size, impact of human activities; adaptations. spi 3210.2.2, spi 3210.2.4; spi.3210.5.1
  • Ecology: classification; communities; ecosystems. 3255.1.1, 3255.3.6, 3255.4.5


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