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    From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells. HS-LS1-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  2. Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms. HS-LS1-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  3. Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that feedback mechanisms maintain homeostasis. HS-LS1-3

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  4. Use a model to illustrate the role of cellular division (mitosis) and differentiation in producing and maintaining complex organisms. HS-LS1-4

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  5. Use a model to illustrate how photosynthesis transforms light energy into stored chemical energy. HS-LS1-5

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  6. Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for how carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen from sugar molecules may combine with other elements to form amino acids and/or other large carbon-based molecules. HS-LS1-6

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  7. Use a model to illustrate that cellular respiration is a chemical process whereby the bonds of food molecules and oxygen molecules are broken and the bonds in new compounds are formed resulting in a net transfer of energy. HS-LS1-7

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

A Peformance Expectation (PE) is what a student should be able to do to show mastery of a concept. Some PEs include a Clarification Statement and/or an Assessment Boundary. These can be found by clicking the PE for "More Info." By hovering over a PE, its corresponding pieces from the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts will be highlighted.

Science and Engineering Practices

Developing and Using Models

Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed world(s).

Disciplinary Core Ideas

By clicking on a specific Science and Engineering Practice, Disciplinary Core Idea, or Crosscutting Concept, you can find out more information on it. By hovering over one you can find its corresponding elements in the PEs.

Planning Curriculum

Common Core State Standards Connections

ELA/Literacy

  • RST.11-12.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account. (HS-LS1-1), (HS-LS1-6)
  • SL.11-12.5 - Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest. (HS-LS1-2), (HS-LS1-4), (HS-LS1-5), (HS-LS1-7)
  • WHST.11-12.7 - Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation. (HS-LS1-3)
  • WHST.11-12.8 - Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the specific task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation. (HS-LS1-3)
  • WHST.11-12.9 - Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. (HS-LS1-1)
  • WHST.9-12.2 - Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. (HS-LS1-1), (HS-LS1-6)
  • WHST.9-12.5 - Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (HS-LS1-6)

Mathematics

  • HSF-BF.A.1 - Write a function that describes a relationship between two quantities (HS-LS1-4)
  • HSF-IF.C.7 - Graph functions expressed symbolically and show key features of the graph, by hand in simple cases and using technology for more complicated cases. (HS-LS1-4)
  • MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (HS-LS1-4)

Model Course Mapping

First Time Visitors

Resources & Lesson Plans

  • More resources added each week!
    A team of teacher curators is working to find, review, and vet online resources that support the standards. Check back often, as NSTA continues to add more targeted resources.
  • This computer simulation allows students to investigate the relationship between DNA sequences and protein structures.  Additionally, this interactive activity allows students to make sense of the relationship between DNA structure and types of ...

  • This lesson is designed as a supporting resource for the HHMI resource, The Biology of Skin Color.  The interactive animation describes how and where melanin is produced and includes five stop points where students can learn more information. &n ...

  • This two-minute video provides brief background on the use of zebrafish as a model in studying animal development, before showing a time-lapse sequence of a fertilized zebrafish egg developing into a larva.  The video includes some annotations t ...

  • Decomposers is one of six units in the Carbon: Transformations in Matter and Energy (Carbon TIME) curriculum, which was developed through an NSF-funded research collaboration focused on learning progressions to support environmental literacy.  T ...

  •   Plants is one of six units in the Carbon: Transformations in Matter and Energy (Carbon TIME) curriculum, which was developed through an NSF-funded research collaboration focused on learning progressions to support environmental literacy. &n ...

  • Animals is one of six units in the Carbon: Transformations in Matter and Energy (Carbon TIME) curriculum, which was developed through an NSF-funded research collaboration focused on learning progressions to support environmental literacy.  These ...

  • This is one of 30 lessons from the NSTA Press book Scientific Argumentation in Biology.  The lesson engages students in an argumentation cycle in which they evaluate three alternative claims regarding where most of the matter that makes up the s ...

  • “Lab 5:  Photosynthesis: Why Do Temperature and Light Intensity Affect the Rate of Photosynthesis in Plants?” is one of 27 lab investigations for the high school student from the book, Argument-Driven Inquiry in Biology: Lab Investig ...

  • “Lab 6. Cellular Respiration: How Does the Type of Food Source Affect the Rate of Cellular Respiration in Yeast?” is one of 27 lab investigations for the high school student from the book, Argument-Driven Inquiry in Biology: Lab Investiga ...

  • This is one of 25 assessment probes from the book, “Uncovering Student Ideas in Science, Volume 2: 25 More Formative Assessment Probes”, by Page Keeley, Francis Eberle, and Joy Tugel. All assessment probes in this collection are aligned t ...

  • This unit challenges high school students to uncover answers for the cause of death of a teenage football player while building an understanding of the role of the urinary system in maintaining homeostasis. The unit first engages students by watching ...

  • This resource is an article from the January 2016 issue of The Science Teacher.  The unit focuses on an essential question:  How do Siamese cats develop their coloration?  Students develop explanations by making connections among ...

  • This series of videos, flow charts and discussion probes provides a sequence of learning activities to help students understand that proteins and DNA are not just abstract concepts in biology textbooks. Emphasis is on the concept that DNA and protein ...

  • This article is in the October 2014 edition of The Science Teacher. The author engages students by posing the question of whether the leaves at the top of a tree are different from the leaves at the bottom of the tree. The students discuss what envir ...

  • This lesson is a sequence of learning activities that support student understanding of the role of enzymes in the digestive system and how the digestive system is supported by the circulatory system to provide nutrients to all cells. The lesson plan ...

  • This interactive simulation of the human digestive system provides student the opportunity to understand the coordination of the parts of the digestive system to perform the overall function of this body system. In the simulation students manipulate ...

  • This Java-based NetLogo model allows students to investigate the chemical and energy inputs and outputs of photosynthesis through an interactive simulation. The simulation is a visual, conceptual model of photosynthesis and does not generate quantita ...

  • This model unit from Michigan State University includes 11 lessons that guide students through the process of collecting evidence and developing explanations of where the dry matter of plants comes from and of the roles of photosynthesis and respirat ...

  • This is one of 25 assessment probes from the book, “Uncovering Student Ideas in Life Science, Volume 1: 25 New Formative Assessment Probes,” by Page Keeley and co-authors. All assessment probes in this collection are aligned to a particular science c ...

  • This interactive module integrates textual information, 3D molecular models, interactive molecular simulations, and embedded assessment items to guide students toward understanding the molecular rearrangements and energy transfers that occur during c ...

  • This interactive simulation of human homeostasis provides students the opportunity to explore how our body maintains a stable internal environment in spite of of the outside conditions, within certain limits. This simulation allows students to inves ...

  • This is one of 30 lessons from the NSTA Press book Scientific Argumentation in Biology. The lesson engages students in an argumentation cycle in which they determine if an individual could be the abducted son who disappeared 20 years prior. The lesso ...

  • This online interactive module of 10 pages or frames integrates textual information, 3D molecular models, interactive molecular simulations, and embedded assessment items to guide students in understanding the copying of DNA base sequences from trans ...

  • Do you have a great resource to share with the community? Click here.
  • Link to the slides and lesson plans that are published on google docs.

  • Extra! Extra! Hot off the presses! Presenting newly released and FREE classroom-ready resources and strategies for incorporating infectious diseases and viruses in your classroom. All of these HHMI BioInteractive resources are aligned with the NGSS, ...

  • Students will compare and contrast methods of selective plant breeding, describe the scientific process of creating a genetically modified plant, compare genetically modified soybean seeds to conventional soybean seeds, describe the impact weeds have...

  • This activity describes the flow of carbon in the environment and focuses on how much carbon is stored in trees. It goes on to have students analyze data and make calculations about the amount of carbon stored in a set of trees at three sites in a w...

  • In this lab activity students generate their own biomass gases by heating wood pellets or wood splints in a test tube. They collect the resulting gases and use the gas to roast a marshmallow. Students also evaluate which biomass fuel is the best by t...

  • This detailed chemistry lesson from the U.S. Department of Energy focuses on transforming vegetable oil into biodiesel through a process of transesterification. The process described offers a good model for many chemical reaction processes that are u...

  • This video follows biologist Gretchen Hofmann as she studies the effects of ocean acidification on sea urchin larvae.

  • This video focuses on the conifer forest in Alaska to explore the carbon cycle and how the forest responds to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide. Topics addressed in the video include wildfires, reflectivity, and the role of permafrost in the global c...

  • This figure, the famous Keeling Curve, shows the history of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations as directly measured at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. This curve is an essential piece of evidence that shows the increased greenhouse gases that cause recent ...

  • This NASA video explores the relationship between climate and agriculture. The video discusses the variability of climate impacts in different regions, as well as the effects of population growth and higher demands for food in areas that already str...

  • This video segment from 'Earth: The Operators' Manual' explores how we know that today’s increased levels of CO2 are caused by humans burning fossil fuels and not by some natural process, such as volcanic out-gassing. Climate scientist Richard Alle...

  • This NASA animation shows the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide over different time scales. Viewers can compare the last 400,000 years, last 1000 years, and last 25 years. The data come from the Lake Vostok ice cores (400,000 BC to about 4000 BC)...

  • This PBS video shows how Klaus Lackner, a geophysicist at Columbia University, is trying to tackle the problem of rising atmospheric CO2 levels by using an idea inspired by his daughter's 8th-grade science fair project. The video examines the idea of...

  • This video introduces phytoplankton - the base of the marine food web, the source of half of the oxygen on Earth, and an important remover of CO2 from the atmosphere. The video also explains how satellites are used to monitor phytoplankton and how wa...

  • This animated slideshow introduces biodiesel as a fuel alternative. With concern about the use of petroleum-based fuels at an all-time high, biodiesel is experiencing a popularity surge. And algae—otherwise known to some as pond scum— are grabbin...

  • This video segment from the Earth Operators Manual summarizes how fossil fuels are made, provides a comparison of how long it takes to store energy in coal, oil and natural gas, and discusses how fast we're using them.

  • This video describes the foundation Plant for the Planet, a foundation created by a 9-year-old German boy, Felix. This foundation has planted more than 500,000 trees in Germany, which he says help sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions...

  • This video documents how scientists, using marine algae, can study climate change in the past to help understand potential effects of climate change in the future.

  • In this lab activity, students use a chemical indicator (bromothymol blue) to detect the presence of carbon dioxide in animal and plant respiration and in the burning of fossil fuels and its absence in the products of plant photosynthesis. After com...

  • In this video a scientist explains how DNA extracted from ancient tree remains provides insights about how trees/plants have adapted, over time, to changes in CO2 in the atmosphere. Her lab research investigates changes in plant genotypes under expe...

  • This video describes the work of scientists who are studying the precise combination of trees that would be most effective in reducing the level of greenhouse gases in the air around Syracuse, NY. This is a pilot study that will serve as a model for ...

  • In this video from the Polaris Project Website, American and Siberian university students describe their research on permafrost.

  • In this video segment, two students discuss the greenhouse effect and visit with research scientists at Biosphere 2 in Arizona, who research the effects of global climate change on organisms in a controlled facility. Their current research (as of 200...

  • This video segment demonstrates carbon dioxide's role in the greenhouse effect and explains how increasing concentrations of C02 in the atmosphere may be contributing to global warming. Video includes an unusual demonstration of C02's heat-absorbing ...

  • This video segment examines ethanol, a cleaner-burning fuel alternative to gasoline, and the efforts to produce it more efficiently.

  • In this video, adapted from KUAC-TV and the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, viewers learn how one-celled organisms in permafrost may be contributing to greenhouse gas levels and global warming.

  • This video features the Prairie Heating and CO2 Enrichment Experiment near Cheyenne WY, where scientists expose mixed-grass prairie to higher temperatures and CO2 concentrations to study impacts on the prairie for late in this century.

  • This article and slide show from the New York Times, features several scientists from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, who study the effects of thawing permafrost in Alaska.

  • This is a series of 5 guided-inquiry activities that examine data and models that climate scientists use to attempt to answer the question of Earth's future climate.

  • This activity leads students through a sequence of learning steps that highlight the embedded energy that is necessary to produce various types of food. Students start by thinking through the components of a basic meal and are later asked to review t...

  • In this video, students explore the work of Jay Keasling, a biologist who is experimenting with ways to produce a cleaner-burning fuel from biological matter using genetically modified microorganisms.

  • This is a hands-on inquiry activity using zip-lock plastic bags that allows students to observe the process of fermentation and the challenge of producing ethanol from cellulosic sources. Students are asked to predict outcomes and check their observa...

  • This video highlights the work of climate scientists in the Amazon who research the relationship between deforestation, construction of new dams, and increased amounts of greenhouse gases being exchanged between the biosphere and the atmosphere.

  • In this 3-part lab activity, students investigate how carbon moves through the global carbon cycle and study the effects of specific feedback loops on the carbon cycle.

  • This short video is an excerpt from the longer video Acid Test: The Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification, produced by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). This short version summarizes the science of ocean acidification as well as the so...

  • In this activity, students explore the basic living requirements of algae (phytoplankton)through hands-on experience and an interactive game. Students investigate what algal biofuels are, how they are made, where they can grow, and, most importantly,...

  • Two short, narrated animations about carbon dioxide and Earth's temperature are presented on this webpage. The first animation shows the rise in atmospheric CO2 levels, human carbon emissions, and global temperature rise of the past 1,000 years; the ...

  • These are the Slide for "Beyond Earlobes and Tongue Rolling"

  • Understanding the immune system and how diseases develop will help students long after they have left your classroom. This session introduced free modules that help students understand these concepts and more, including the use of animals in biomedic...

Planning Curriculum gives connections to other areas of study for easier curriculum creation.