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Life Science

Structure and Function

Unit Driving Question

How do the structure and function of organisms contribute to their survival?

Performance Expectations

MS-LS1-1, MS-LS1-2, MS-LS1-3, MS-LS1-6, MS-LS1-7, MS-LS1-8, MS-LS4-2, MS-LS4-3

Unit Highlights

It’s the deadly leaves of a Venus flytrap. Or the startling camouflage techniques of a brilliant octopus. Earth’s diverse array of creatures and plants have unique structures that assist our common quest for survival. Starting at the cellular level for plants and animals, students learn about cells, how those cells work in systems to contribute to survival. Students investigate how photosynthesis and cellular respiration drive the flow of energy and matter in an organism. A close investigation of the nervous system and a frog dissection show the interdependence of organs and their systems. At the end of the unit, students research unique systems of organisms—who knew hippos can sweat their own sunscreen?

Genes and Molecular Machines

Unit Driving Question

How has human understanding of inheritance allowed us to influence change in biodiversity?

Performance Expectations

MS-LS1-1, MS-LS1-4, MS-LS1-5, MS-LS3-1, MS-LS3-2, MS-LS4-3, MS-LS4-5

Unit Highlights

Beginning at the cellular level, students explore the different ways that organisms reproduce and what that means for their genetics. Students learn how traits are passed from one generation to the next as they study zebra fish, plants, protists, and humans. By the end of the unit, students create their own “creatures” with unique characteristics and follow those traits to their offspring to learn about inheritance. Using Punnett squares, DNA, and mutations, they predict future generations. 

Ecosystems and their Interactions

Unit Driving Question

How do organisms interact with one another and their environments?

Performance Expectations

MS-LS1-5, MS-LS1-6, MS-LS1-7, MS-LS2-1, MS-LS2-2, MS-LS2-3, MS-LS2-4, MS-LS2-5, MS-LS4-4, MS-LS4-6, MS-ESS3-3

Unit Highlights

As the unit opens, pond ecosystems and butterfly ecosystems provide the launching pad for learning how various elements of systems interact. Students build models and work with simulations to learn how the food web, predation, genetics, and the energy pyramid effect ecosystems. By the end of the unit, students apply their learning to timely issues such as invasive species, runoff and its impact on drinking water, and landslides.