An Imaginative Idea for Online-Biology
During their period of distance learning students drew pictures of imaginary animals and invented Latin names for them. The results are now being exhibited on campus.

At the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic class instruction was only possible online. So we teachers had to come up with exercises that could be sent to our students per internet. At the same time we wanted them still to have fun with their lessons.  That is why I tried to come up with a creative assignment.

King Philipp Classified Over Fifty Green Spiders“

This sentence stands for:


This is a mnemonic that everyone knows who is taking Biology in their Abitur or IB programme, because he or she must be able to classify animals and plants within the Systema Naturae devised by Carl Linnaeus (aka Carl von Linné). This is a system based on the biological relationships between organisms. All the creatures belonging to one group have descended from a common ancestor during the course of evolution. Therefore related species resemble each other through characteristics which they have inherited from their common ancestors. Thus they are similar due to kinship. In this system each organism is given a Latin name which consists of two parts (a generic name and a trivial or specific name) as seen, for example, in Homo sapiens.

The assignment was to draw an imaginary animal, place it in the Systema Naturae, and in that way understand the system better. The students should also realise that their animal could not be correctly classified because it partly shared characteristics from other groups. The invented names of the creatures could be translated from English or German into Latin with the help of a website. So, for example, “Horrible Teacher” receives the taxonomic name Praeceptor horribiles.

It can be seen from their drawings that the students did indeed have fun doing this assignment. The results were so fascinating that two exhibitions of their work have been mounted on campus. The drawings by Abitur students were on display in the foyer in Härlen and those of the IB students in the Science Building in Spetzgart.


Joachim Reiter, Biology teacher in the Abitur and IB programmes