Animal Structures to Obtain Food | EL Education Curriculum

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LS G4:M2:U1:L3

Animal Structures to Obtain Food

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Lesson Sequence 3: Overview

Total Time: 2.5 hours of instruction (divided into three sections)

In Lesson Sequences 3–6, students survey the specialized structures of animals. In this lesson sequence, students explore the various structures and correlating functions that animals use to obtain food. Using earthworm observations to stimulate thinking, students brainstorm the structures animals use to obtain food. Students then participate in hands-on simulations at stations to better understand the specialized structures, such as beaks, claws, and teeth, and their role in obtaining certain types of food.

Long-Term Learning Addressed (Based on NGSS)

Use a model to test the cause and effect relationship between specialized structures that animals use to obtain food, such as teeth and claws, and an animal’s ability to survive, grow, and reproduce. (Based on NGSS 3-LS4-3)

This lesson sequence explicitly addresses:

Science and Engineering Practices:

  • Developing and Using Models: Develop and/or use models to describe and/or predict phenomena. Using a simulation model, students work to test cause and effect interactions between the structures and functions of mouthparts and other body parts used to obtain food. Note: This Science and Engineering Practice is not explicitly aligned with 3-LS4-3.

Crosscutting Concepts:

  • Structure and Function: Different materials have different substructures, which can sometimes be observed; and substructures have shapes and parts that serve functions. Students learn that animals have special structures that allow them to do special things, such as flat teeth that are good at grinding plants and sharp teeth that are good at tearing. Note: This Crosscutting Concept is not explicitly aligned with 3-LS4-3.
  • Cause and Effect: Cause and effect relationships are routinely identified and used to explain change. Students learn that there is a relationship between obtaining food and surviving.

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

  • LS1.A Structure and Function: Plants and animals have both internal and external structures that serve various functions in growth, survival, behavior, and reproduction. Students learn about the diversity of structure and function of animal body parts used to obtain food and its effect on surviving, growing, and reproducing. Note: This Disciplinary Core Idea is not explicitly aligned with 3-LS4-3.

Lesson Sequence Learning Targets

  • I can classify the variety of specialized structures animals use to obtain food.
  • I can test the cause and effect relationship of obtaining enough food and surviving well by using a model.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Scientists Meeting: Building Understanding
  • Student science notebooks: Obtaining Food entry

Agenda

AgendaTeaching Notes

Total Time: 2.5 hours of instruction

Section 1

1. Opening

A. Reviewing Learning Targets (10 minutes)

2. Obtaining Information

A. Observing Earthworms (20 minutes)

Section 2

1. Defining and Using Models

A. Using a Simulation Model: Obtaining Food Stations (60 minutes)

B. Classifying Structures and Functions (10 minutes)

Section 3

1. Constructing an Explanation

A. Scientists Meeting: Building Understanding (25 minutes)

B. Constructing an Explanation (25 minutes)

Purpose of lesson sequence and alignment with NGSS standards:

  • This lesson sequence begins a series of lessons where students will build deeper understanding of structure and function (a Crosscutting Concept and a Disciplinary Core Idea) in animals.
  • In Section 1, students observe earthworms to stimulate their thinking about the structures that animals use to obtain food.
  • In Section 2, students learn more about models and use a simulation as a model (a Science and Engineering Practice) to understand the specialized structures that animals have to help them obtain food.
  • In Section 3, students discuss the results of the simulation to understand the cause and effect relationship (a Crosscutting Concept) between how animals use specialized structures to obtain enough food and how well they survive. Students also build understanding of how different mouthpart structures help animals obtain the food that is available in the ecosystem in which the animal lives.
  • Students begin the Animal Structures and Functions anchor chart to track their thinking about different animal structures and their functions. They add to this anchor chart throughout Lesson Sequences 3–6, and may use it as a resource during the performance task in Lesson Sequence 11.

How it builds on previous work in the Life Science Module:

  • In Lesson Sequence 2, students became experts in one of three ecosystems. By the end of this lesson sequence, students will have the necessary background information to brainstorm possible structures that their fictional animals will have to obtain the food that exists in their ecosystem.

How it reinforces the CCSS Standards and EL Education’s Language Arts Grade 4 Module 2:

  • Students use the Back-to-Back and Face-to-Face protocol in Language Arts Module 2.
  • The Jigsaw in Section 1 and the plant and animal cards in Section 2 provide students with the opportunity to practice reading informational texts (CCSS ELA RI.4.1 and RI.4.3).
  • The student’s argument in Section 2 provide students with an opportunity to practice argument writing (CCSS ELA W.4.1).
  • The Scientists Meeting in Section 3 provides students with the opportunity to practice their speaking and listening skills while collaborating in whole-group discussions (CCSS ELA SL.4.1).

Possible student misconceptions:

  • Students may be familiar with the idea that “carnivores are meat-eaters.” This leads to misunderstandings because students will say that an animal that eats insects is not a carnivore because insects are not “meat.” Instead, clarify that carnivores eat other animals. Herbivores eat plants, and omnivores eat both plant and animal material.

Possible broader connections:

  • Connect learning in this lesson sequence to students’ lives by allowing them to include animals that they already know about from zoo visits, pets, or other animals they have read about or encountered in the natural world when listing structures and functions to obtain food on the Animal Structures and Functions anchor chart.
  • Connect to other sciences by exploring cause and effect relationships with which students are already familiar, such as the relationship between the sun and earth and forces and motion.

Areas where students may need additional support:

  • Earthworm mouthparts are very hard to see. Do not require students to identify the mouthparts. The purpose of observing the earthworm, as well as using the Invertebrate chart in Section 1, is to stimulate thinking about the unique structures that animals, especially invertebrates, have for obtaining food.
  • As students begin to imagine possibilities for the animals they will create in Lesson Sequence 11, consider which type of animal will support or challenge individual students, given their strengths and needs. For students who need additional support with conceptualizing a realistic but fictional animal: Encourage them to focus on an animal they are more familiar with, like a mammal. For students who need a challenge: Encourage them to create an invertebrate or a less familiar animal.

Down the road:

  • In Lesson Sequence 4, students will design their own experiment to test an earthworm’s response to stimuli. Gather a variety of materials that could safely provide stimuli without injuring the animals. See Lesson Sequence 4 materials for suggestions.
  • Continue to care for the grass and radish plants seeded in preparation for Lesson Sequence 8. Refer to the Grade 4 Life Science Module Overview for additional information.

In Advance

  • Read each section and complete the Preparing to Teach: Self-Coaching Guide.
  • Prepare the earthworms and worm habitat. Refer to the Grade 4 Life Science Module Overview for additional information.
  • Gather materials for the earthworm observation in Section 1.
  • Gather materials and set up stations in Section 2. You will need to set up two of each station for a total of six stations. This allows 24 students to work at the stations. Adjust plans according to class size.
  • Determine partnerships for the earthworm work. Consider what classroom structures and norms to implement to best support respectful handling of earthworms, organized storing of materials, and efficiency when moving between activities.
  • Determine groups of four for station work.
  • Review the Back-to-Back and Face-to-Face protocol (see the Classroom Protocols pack).
  • Create the Animal Structures and Functions anchor chart.
  • Post: Lesson sequence learning targets, Scientists Do These Things anchor chart, Life Science Module guiding question, Norms of a Scientists Meeting, Concepts Scientists Think About anchor chart.

Optional extensions:

  • N/A

Vocabulary

obtain = to get something

structure = a thing that is made up of parts that work together; the parts of an animal’s body or the parts of a plant

function = the purpose that something has or the job that it does

simulation model = imitating an action in the real world

relationship = the way two or more objects or living things interact

cause and effect = the relationship between actions or events

invertebrate = an animal lacking a backbone, such as an arthropod, mollusk, or insect

carnivore = eats other animals

herbivore = eats plants

omnivore = eats plants and other animals

Materials

General Materials

  • Student science notebooks (from Lesson Sequence 1; one per student)
    • Obtaining Food entry (page 12 of Student science notebook)
    • Ecosystem entry (page 6 of the notebook)
    • Animal Structures and Functions anchor chart entry (page 2 of the notebook)
  • Handling Live Animals in the Classroom (for teacher reference)
  • Invertebrate chart (one to display)
  • Animal Structures and Functions anchor chart ((new, teacher-created; added to by students in Section 1; see Teaching Notes)
  • Scientists Do These Things anchor chart (begun in Lesson Sequence 2 and added to in Section 2; see supporting materials)
  • Norms of a Scientists Meeting anchor chart (begun in Lesson Sequence 1)
  • Life Science Module guiding question (from Lesson Sequence 1; one to display)
  • Teacher science notebook (from Lesson Sequence 1; one to display)
  • Concepts Scientists Think About anchor chart (begun in Lesson Sequence 2)

Science-Specific Materials

  • Materials for earthworm observations (one set per group of three or four students; used in Section 1)
    • Earthworms (one for every two students)
    • Wet paper towel and plate or tray
    • Banana to feed worm
    • Spray bottle with de-chlorinated water to keep worm moist
  • Materials for Obtaining Food Structures Stations (used in Section 2)
    • Two sets of materials for Station 1: Station 1 Pictures, stopwatch, straw, spoon, tweezers, one cup per student, and a tray with an assortment of “food items,” such as beans, raisins, lentils or popcorn
    • Two sets of materials for Station 2: Station 2 Pictures, stopwatch, binder clip, set of chopsticks, masking tape, one cup per student, and a tray with an assortment of “food items,” such as beans, raisins, lentils or popcorn
    • Two sets of materials for Station 3: Station 3 Pictures, stopwatch, two staple removers, four flat stones the size of a child’s hand, plant material such as stems and leaves, and 12 cotton balls (three per student)
    • Timer (optional; for teacher to use during Section 2)

Opening

Section 1: OpeningPreparing to Teach: Self-Coaching Guide

A. Reviewing Learning Targets (10 minutes)

  • Invite students to take out their student science notebooks and turn to the Obtaining Food entry. Ask them to locate the “Opening” section and put their finger on the question: “How does the shape of animals’ mouths, teeth, and claws affect their ability to get the food they need to grow and reproduce?”
  • Invite students to consider this question and record their ideas in the right-hand column of the “Opening” section.
  • Ask students to turn to an elbow partner and share their ideas (1).
  • Circulate to listen in as students share and to gain an understanding of student thinking.
  • Invite volunteers to share out.
  • Direct students’ attention to the posted lesson sequence learning targets. Read them aloud, as students follow along, reading them silently in their heads:
    • “I can classify the variety of specialized structures animals use to obtain food.”
    • “I can test the cause and effect relationship of obtaining enough food and surviving well by using a model.”
  • Explain to students that during this lesson sequence, they will be observing an earthworm and working in stations to collect data to learn about the special structures, or body parts, animals have to obtain, or get, food. This work will help them better understand how important it is that animals are able to get the right kinds and amounts of food to survive well, or grow and reproduce.
  • Remind students that they will be using one of the structures they learn about today when they design their realistic animal for the performance task.

(1) What organisms from the Language Arts module could I use to stimulate student thinking?

Work Time

Work TimePreparing to Teach: Self-Coaching Guide

Section 1: Obtaining Information

A. Observing Earthworms (20 minutes)

  • Explain to students that they will be using earthworms to explore unique structures and functions that animals have to obtain food, sense their environment, and move so that they can survive well in an ecosystem.
  • Share the importance of agreeing on classroom norms for safe and respectful handling of animals. Say something like: “Before handling the animals, we need to decide how to create a safe place and how to handle the earthworms so they are well cared for in our classroom.”
  • Use Handling Live Animals in the Classroom (for teacher reference) to guide students as they agree upon norms for handling the earthworms (2).
  • Arrange students into pre-determined pairs.
  • Distribute materials for earthworm observations to each pair (1).
  • Instruct students to observe the earthworm and record any observations and questions they have in the Obtaining Food entry in their student science notebook under “Obtaining Information: Observing Earthworms.” Encourage students to draw diagrams with labels, and to record their thinking or questions in words.
  • Remind students not to pick the earthworm up. If they want to turn it over, they should do it, gently, with the eraser end of their pencil.
  • Circulate to support students and ask questions such as the following to help students make observations (3):

“Which end is the mouth? How do you know?”

“The mouth is very hard to see, but what might the mouth look like?”

  • After 5 minutes, ask each pair to find another pair and share their observations.
  • Invite students to return the earthworms and materials for earthworm observations to their proper place.
  • Refocus the whole class.
  • Display the Invertebrate chart and explain that an invertebrate is an animal without a backbone.
  • Ask students to turn and talk with an elbow partner:

“What are the different structures, or body parts, these invertebrates might use to obtain, or get, food?”

  • Ask for volunteers to share out. Use students’ responses to begin adding to the Animal Structures and Functions anchor chart (4) (5).
  • Be sure to steer students toward not only naming the structure, but also thinking about how the structure fulfills the function of getting food. Capture these ideas in the Reasoning column.
  • Tell students they will use this anchor chart to track the structures they learn about throughout the module. This chart will help them know how those structures function—and then when they design their animal in the performance task, they will have lots of ideas from which to draw.

(1) How will I capture and post these classroom norms to refer to across the Life Science Module lessons?

(2) What classroom norms do I have in place about students collecting and returning materials that might support the earthworm observation and station learning?

(3) What other invertebrates are my students familiar with that I could reference to stimulate their thinking? Do I need to provide an example with a think-aloud?

(4) What other protocols can I use to invite student participation? Consider letting students call on other students to share at this time.

(5) After previewing the Invertebrate chart, what structures will my students likely identify? How do these structures work? (The mosquito has a long feeding tube that sucks up the food; the ant has mandibles that cut and tear the food; the leech has a sucker that slurps up the food, etc.) Remember that it is fine if students don’t know the correct terminology. The focus is on how the structure works.

Section 2: Defining and Using Models

A. Using a Simulation Model: Obtaining Food Stations (60 minutes)

  • Explain to students that they will be working as scientists using a simulation model—a model that imitates actions found in the real world.
  • Ask:

“What do you already know about models?” (Responses will vary.)

  • Direct students’ attention to the Scientists Do These Things anchor chart and refer to the definition of model:
    • “A model can be a drawing or diagram, a physical replica, or a simulation.”
  • Explain that models can be used to test cause and effect relationships.
  • Ask:

“In science, what do you think relationship means?” (A word scientists use to describe the way two or more things interact)

  • Explain to students that they will be working at three different stations using a simulation model to explore the relationship between obtaining food and surviving (1).
  • Add “Obtaining Food Simulation” as an example to the Scientists Do These Things anchor chart.
  • Ask students to turn to the Obtaining Food entry in their student science notebook and put their finger on the “Using Models” section for Station 1, Station 2, and Station 3.
  • Briefly model what is expected at each station and how to transition according to the directions provided in the student science notebooks. Share with students the signal you will use when it is time for them to transition to a new station (2).
  • Share with students their pre-determined groups. Invite students to take their student science notebooks and move with their group to their designated starting station (3).
  • Set the timer for 8 minutes and instruct students to begin working. When the timer sounds, warn students they have 2 minutes to finish their work at their station and organize the materials for the next group.
  • Signal for students to move to a new station.
  • Circulate to support groups and facilitate transitions.
  • Once groups have visited all three stations, ask students to return to their seats.

(1) What classroom norms do I already have in place to support student transitions and the handling of materials?

(2) At the stations, what directions might be worth modeling or explicitly stating before beginning the work? When explaining station directions to students, consider:

    • Explaining that they will use the procedure or directions to complete each station.
    • Reminding them that they should also complete the Results section for each station by the time they are ready to transition to the next station.

(3) How do I (or students) keep track of time in our classroom?

B. Classifying Structures and Functions (10 minutes)

  • Refocus students on the posted lesson sequence learning targets and reread the first one aloud:
    • “I can classify the variety of specialized structures animals used to obtain food.”
  • Explain that they will now classify the structures and functions they learned about in the Obtaining Food Stations, and they will record them on the Animal Structures and Functions anchor chart.
  • Remind students that the structures they explored in the simulation represents the body parts used by animals to help them obtain food, and that the function was how they used that body part to obtain the food.
  • Remind students that they can find the list of special structures in their student science notebooks in the “Tool and Animal Structure Match” table under Station 1 Data and Station 2 Data.
  • Refocus students’ attention on the Animal Structures and Functions anchor chart.
  • Ask:

“What structures and functions of body parts used to obtain food should we consider adding to our Animal Structures and Functions anchor chart?” (Responses will vary. Record all valid answers on the anchor chart and refer to the supporting materials for possible responses.)

  • Probe students to think about what ecosystems they would find animals with those structures and why (1).
  • Invite students to open up their student science notebooks and record some of the structures that would make sense in their ecosystem on the Animal Structures and Functions anchor chart entry on page 2 of their notebook.
  • Advise students to write down some of the possible structures that would make sense for the animal they are designing for the performance task. Remind students that they should choose only those structures that would be realistic for their animal, so they must consider what their animal eats and where it lives. Consider saying: “If I am assigned to the grassland, I know there are a lot of plants growing there. So my animal may eat plants, and I need to consider what kinds of structures it would use to obtain plant material as food. My animal may also eat other animals, so I want to list a few of those structures too.”

(1) What questions can I ask students to help them connect their learning about ecosystems and structures for obtaining food?

Section 3: Constructing an Explanation

A. Scientists Meeting: Building Understanding (25 minutes)

  • Ask students to bring their science notebooks and gather for a Scientists Meeting.
  • Gather students to a whole group area on the floor.
  • Explain to students:
    • This is a special class conversation where they talk about important science concepts and the new concepts they are learning.
    • They should always gather in a circle and be respectful of one another’s space.
    • They will be using the things they write in their student science notebook to help them explain their ideas, so they should always bring it to the meeting.
  • Remind students that a Scientists Meeting is a conversation where they speak to one another as scientists and not just to the teacher.
  • Direct students’ attention to the Norms of a Scientists Meeting anchor chart (1):
    • We take turns talking.
    • We build on one another’s ideas.
    • We disagree respectfully.
    • We ask questions when we don’t understand.
  • Direct students’ attention to the Life Science Module guiding question:
    • “How do the internal and external structures of plants or animals function together as a system to help them survive well in a given habitat?”
  • Tell students that in Lesson Sequence 2 they focused on understanding a system. Today, they will focus on the relationship between the structures the animal has and its ability to survive well.
  • Remind students that they have learned about the structures animals use to obtain specific kinds of food, but they also determined the effect of obtaining enough food to survive in the model simulation in the stations.
  • Invite students to open their student science notebooks to the Obtaining Food entry and find the data they collected in each station.
  • Ask (2) (3):

“What was the effect of getting a little bit of food?”

“Would you call that surviving well? Why or why not?”

“What about getting some food?”

“Would you consider that surviving well? Why or why not?”

  • Cold call a student to locate the Ecosystem entry in his or her student science notebook and read the definition for surviving well aloud. (To grow and reproduce)
  • Ask (4):

“Does this definition make sense with our data?”

“Does anyone see a relationship between the amount of food an animal gets and its ability to survive well? What is that relationship?”

“Was there a reason that some tools were better able to get enough food to survive well? What was it?”

  • Encourage students to listen to and respond to one another’s ideas. Consider using or prompting students to use the following (5):

“What do you mean by …?”

“Tell me more about …”

“This is what I think you are saying …”

“Who can add to this idea?”

“Explain what John said in your own words.”

  • Capture students’ ideas in the teacher science notebook. This will model the scientific skill of gathering data for students. Clarify misconceptions as needed.
  • To end, encourage students by reminding them they are already learning some ideas of how to answer the Life Science Module guiding question. Ask:

“Can someone explain how animal structures used to obtain food can help an animal survive well?”

  • Focus students’ attention on the Concepts Scientists Think About anchor chart.
  • Remind students that scientists are always looking for cause and effect relationships in the world around them.
  • Read the definition of cause and effect from the anchor chart:
    • “Cause and effect means ‘studying the relationship between the actions or events of at least two things.’”
  • Ask students to turn and talk to one another:

“What cause and effect relationship did you learn about through the simulation model? (There is a cause and effect relationship between obtaining food and surviving well.)

  • Ask students to turn and talk to one another (6):

“What do you know about the tundra, desert, or grassland ecosystem that you are assigned to that would be important to think about when choosing what mouthpart structures your design animal should have in order survive well?” (Animals must be able to obtain enough of the right kinds of food in their ecosystem, and they need the right structures to eat it. Examples: Grasses are common in a grassland, so an herbivore might make sense; desert animals rely on small animals for food, so maybe a creature with claws and sharp teeth.)

  • Assure students they will learn more information to help them answer the Life Science Module guiding question over the next several lessons. Tell them that in the next lesson, specifically, they will learn more about the structures animals use to sense the world around them.
  • Invite students to return to their seats.

(1) How did the first Scientists Meeting go in Lesson Sequence 1? What norms will I emphasize?

(2) What other questions could I ask to probe students’ thinking if they are having a hard time coming up with an answer?

(3) When students respond, how will I encourage them to use newly acquired vocabulary, such as obtaining, structure, and function?

(4) I want students to see that surviving well means having enough food to grow and reproduce. I want students to see there is a cause and effect relationship between getting enough food and surviving well. I also want students to understand that having the right kind of structures to eat the food that is available is an important part of getting enough food. Are there additional questions I should ask? Maybe some “What if …” questions would be helpful to stimulate student thinking.

(5) How can I help my students talk to one another more? What productive talk moves would I like to try?

(6) What examples (perhaps from the animal cards in Lesson Sequence 2) do I have to help students understand that animals need structures to successfully eat the food available in the ecosystem where they live?

B. Constructing an Explanation (25 minutes)

  • Tell students they will be orally constructing an explanation to answer the following question:

“What is the cause and effect relationship between obtaining food and surviving well?”

  • Tell students they already have an idea about how to answer this from the Scientists Meeting. Now they will get a chance to practice explaining it in their own words and with their own data.
  • Explain that when scientists construct an explanation, they use evidence or data to support and explain their answer. Remind students that they collected data during the Obtaining Food Stations, which will now help them construct an explanation (1).
  • Post these steps on the board for how to construct an explanation using data to support it:

1. Restate the question as a statement. (There is a cause and effect relationship between obtaining food and surviving well.)

2. Describe the strong evidence that supports your point. (Describe your data from the stations.)

3. Use reasoning to explain how the evidence does in fact support your point.

  • Model these three steps for students:
    • Model how to restate the question as a statement. Example: “There is a cause and effect relationship between an animal’s ability to obtain food and survive well.”
    • Model how to use evidence to support the statement by selecting an animal’s mouthpart from Station 1, Station 2, or Station 3 to explain why that mouthpart helps the animal survive. Example (using Station 2): Monarch butterflies have a mouthpart that functions like a straw. This is a special structure that allows them to eat parts of a flower.
    • Model how to explain the cause and effect relationship between obtaining enough food to survive well by using the data as evidence from the Results section. Example: “The straw represented the monarch’s mouthparts. In the simulation, the straw collected (insert how many food pieces from table) so it (insert results). This means it (survived well, survived less well, or died) based on my data.”
  • Refocus students’ attention on the Station 1 Data and Station 2 Data charts, and “Tool and Animal Structure Match” in the Obtaining Food entry of their student science notebooks.
  • Ask students to choose one animal they learned about during the Obtaining Food Stations about which to construct an explanation (3).
  • Invite students to find a partner from their ecosystem expert group and stand back-to-back with each other, being respectful of space.
  • Tell students they are going to use the Back-to-Back and Face-to-Face protocol to orally construct and share their explanations. Remind them that they used this protocol in the Language Arts module. Review as necessary. Refer to the Classroom Protocols pack for the full version of the protocol.
  • Remind students to use data and evidence recorded during the Obtaining Food Stations in their student science notebook to answer the following questions about their chosen animal:

“What mouthpart or structure does your animal have, and how does that help it to survive?”

“What mouthpart or structure does your animal have to obtain food, and how well was its shape suited to obtaining food in the simulation? Use your data as evidence.”

“If your animal had a different mouthpart or structure, would that have affected how much food it obtained?”

“Explain the cause and effect relationship between your animal obtaining enough food and survival. Use your data as evidence.”

  • Ask students to return to their seats.
  • Invite volunteers to share out explanations.
  • Give students specific positive feedback on constructing explanations, using data to support their explanation. (Example: “I heard many people using their data to support their explanation. That really makes your explanation clearer. Let’s remember to always support our thinking with evidence.”)

(1) How familiar are my students with using evidence? How much support will I need to provide in order for students to successfully construct an explanation using evidence from their student science notebooks?

(2) Would it be helpful to scaffold this learning by working in small groups to construct an explanation before students are asked to do it independently?

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