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High School — Science
Life Sciences

At this level, students should demonstrate an understanding of how living systems function and how living systems interact with the physical environment. This includes the cycling of matter and the flow of energy. Students should understand the characteristics, structure and function of cells and organisms. Students should also develop a deeper understanding of the principles of heredity, biological evolution, and the diversity and interdependence of life. Students should demonstrate an understanding of different historical perspectives, scientific approaches and emerging scientific issues with the life sciences.

The content in this Teaching Tool is based on the benchmarks defined in the Ohio Science Academic Content Standards with an awareness of the types of questions asked to this point in time on the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT). While various suggestions and activities for working with students are included, this Teaching Tool is designed to complement a rigorous, research-based curriculum, not to substitute for one.

Additional Sources

American Association for the Advancement of Science. Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Washington, D.C.: Oxford University Press, 1993.

American Association for the Advancement of Science. Atlas of Science Literacy. Washington, D.C.: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Driver, Rosalind, et al. Making Sense of Secondary Science: Research into Children's Ideas. New York: Routledge, 1994.

Genetic Science Learning Center. University of Utah. 2006. <http://gslc.genetics.utah.edu>.

Hazen, Robert M. and James Trefil. Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy. New York: Anchor Books, 1992.

National Academy of Sciences. National Science Education Standards. Washington D.C.: National Academies Press, 1995.

National Research Council. America's Lab Report: Investigations in High School Science. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2006.

Understanding Evolution. University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley and the Regents of the University of California. 2006. <http://evolution.berkeley.edu>.



Life Sciences


1. Life Sciences

Click on the following benchmark for more information and for links to annotated OGT items.

a.

Benchmark A: Explain that cells are the basic unit of structure and function of living organisms, that once life originated all cells come from pre-existing cells, and that there are a variety of cell types.
b.

Benchmark B: Explain the characteristics of life as indicated by cellular processes and describe the process of cell division and development.
c.

Benchmark C: Explain the genetic mechanisms and molecular basis of inheritance.
d.

Benchmark D: Explain the flow of energy and the cycling of matter through biological and ecological systems (cellular, organismal and ecological).
e.

Benchmark E: Explain how evolutionary relationships contribute to an understanding of the unity and diversity of life.
f.

Benchmark F: Explain the structure and function of ecosystems and relate how ecosystems change over time.
g.

Benchmark G: Describe how human activities can impact the status of natural systems.
h.

Benchmark H: Describe a foundation of biological evolution as the change in gene frequency of a population over time. Explain the historical and current scientific developments, mechanisms and processes of biological evolution.
i.

Benchmark I: Explain how natural selection and other evolutionary mechanisms account for the unity and diversity of past and present life forms.
j.

Benchmark J: Summarize the historical development of scientific theories and ideas, and describe emerging issues in the study of life sciences.

 



Strategies

Help With Fundamentals

Student who have performed at the Basic or Limited level on the OGT may need help with fundamentals. Students with Basic level performance demonstrate a rudimentary understanding of concepts, processes and relationships underlying natural phenomena. Students with Limited level performance typically demonstrate skills and understanding below Basic level performance. Click here for a complete description of student performance levels.

Listed here are a few common difficulties students might have in this standard. Carefully monitor your students' work and analyze your curriculum to anticipate such problems.

Please take proper safety precautions during any laboratory investigation.



Additional Instruction and Practice

Students who have performed at the Accelerated or Proficient level on the OGT may benefit from additional instruction and practice. Students with Accelerated level performance typically demonstrate solid knowledge and reasoning abilities in the sciences. Students with Proficient level performance typically recognize and explain concepts, processes and relationships underlying natural phenomena. Click here for a complete description of student performance levels.

If your students need additional instruction and practice, consult with your colleagues and examine your curriculum for activities that address the performance indicators. Supplement your instruction by having your students make models, draw pictures, do kinesthetic activities and use graphic organizers. Here are some examples of additional activities you might want to try.

Please take proper safety precautions during any laboratory investigation.

Activity 1

Plant Cell Plasmolysis

Click here * for "Plant Cell Plasmolysis", a lesson for students to observe the structure and function of Elodea plant cells (Life Sciences, Benchmark A).

Students will observe plant cell components, including the nucleus, chloroplasts, cell wall and cell membrane and determine the effects of different salt solutions on Elodea cell structure. This lesson encourages students to participate in and apply the processes of scientific investigation (Scientific Inquiry, Benchmark A). Students should also compare the structure, function and interrelatedness in eukaryotic cells like Elodea and prokaryotic cells.

Activity 2

Baby Reebops

Click here * for teacher and student resources describing the "Reebops" activity from the Center for Biology Education at University of Wisconsin.

In this activity, students will use concepts of Mendelian Genetics (Life Sciences, Benchmark C) as they construct, interpret and apply a model (Scientific Inquiry, Benchmark A), an imaginary organism called a Reebop, to explain inheritance. Students will also explain that a gene is a unit of hereditary information and that it comes in different forms called alleles.

This activity may be modified so that certain Reebop traits are advantageous or detrimental under certain changing environmental conditions, so that students may also explain how variation increases the likelihood that some members will survive (Life Sciences, Benchmark E). For example, students may explain predictions based on knowledge that fewer body segments lends a competitive advantage in an environment where food is increasingly scarce.

Activity 3

Natural Candy Selection

In this activity, students will demonstrate that characteristics may give individuals a survival advantage or disadvantage compared to others (Life Sciences, Benchmark H).

Students will select from a variety of candies in a dish before the lesson. The candy represents a group with variation in "inherited" characteristics, including flavor, ingredients, size and wrapping. Discuss how a great deal of variation exists in organisms like humans. Students recognize that the variation in the candies has led to some being selected more often than others. Students may describe reasons for not selecting "surviving" candies; these reasons represent advantageous traits. During the discussion, students may also distinguish between observations, such as the number of chocolate candies selected, and inferences, like using evidence to decide whether or not a trait is advantageous (Scientific Inquiry, Benchmark A). Students can count the candies to demonstrate that the proportion of individuals that have advantageous characteristics has increased. By adding extra candies of the same type as surviving members, students demonstrate how proportions of future generations are affected.

Click here * for additional strategies for students to understand natural selection.

Activity 4

Managing the Everglades Ecosystem

Click here * for "Managing the Everglades Ecosystem," a lesson for students to describe how human activities can impact the status of natural systems in Everglades National Park (Life Sciences, Benchmark G).

Using Internet resources, students will make observations of the structure and function of the Everglades ecosystem (Life Sciences, Benchmark F). Students will then describe how evidence has helped the National Park Service understand the impact of fire in the Everglades and, consequently, revise its fire management program. This activity also addresses student understanding of means of comparing the benefits and risks of technology and how science can inform public policy (Science and Technology, Benchmark B).

*This link contains resources or information that may be useful. These resources were not written to align specifically to Ohio's Academic Content Standards. The inclusion of a specific resource is not an endorsement of that particular resource, or any of its contents, by the Ohio Department of Education. Teachers are advised to preview all sites before using them with students.



Advanced Work

Students with Advanced level performance consistently demonstrate superior knowledge and ability to integrate understanding of scientific principles. Click here for a complete description of student performance levels.

Talk to your colleagues and use your curriculum to come up with activities and problems that go beyond the grade-level indicators. Here is an idea you might try.

Please take proper safety precautions during any laboratory investigation.



What makes a firefly glow?

Students are expected to explain why specialized cells are useful to organisms(Life Sciences, Benchmark B). For example, students may recognize that information stored in firefly DNA provides the instructions for assembling the enzyme luciferase, which is used by the certain firefly cells to drive a chemical reaction that generates light, as illustrated in the animated tutorial "What makes a firefly glow? "* Below is a sample question that students may answer to demonstrate understanding of this indicator.

Problem 1

Explain what must happen in the cell of a firefly so that it can produce the enzyme luciferase from its corresponding gene.

Answer

Answer Explanation

The gene that specifies the DNA nucleotide sequence of luciferase is transcribed to a mRNA strand by RNA polymerase in the cell's nucleus. The mRNA strand is transported to the cell cytoplasm once transcription is complete. There, a ribosome facilitates the construction of a chain of amino acids based on the mRNA nucleotide sequence. This process is called translation. The chain of amino acids folds into its final three-dimensional form: the luciferase enzyme. The enzyme facilitates the light-generating chemical reaction in the firefly cell, which may be observable to other organisms.

Extension

Students may also explain why specialized cells, like those in the tail of a firefly, are useful to plants and animals to demonstrate further understanding of this benchmark.

*This link contains resources or information that may be useful. These resources were not written to align specifically to Ohio's Academic Content Standards. The inclusion of a specific resource is not an endorsement of that particular resource, or any of its contents, by the Ohio Department of Education. Teachers are advised to preview all sites before using them with students.