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  • Middle School

    Growth, Development, and Reproduction of Organisms

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively. MS-LS1-4

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  2. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms. MS-LS1-5

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  3. Develop and use a model to describe why structural changes to genes (mutations) located on chromosomes may affect proteins and may result in harmful, beneficial, or neutral effects to the structure and function of the organism. MS-LS3-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  4. Develop and use a model to describe why asexual reproduction results in offspring with identical genetic information and sexual reproduction results in offspring with genetic variation. MS-LS3-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  5. Gather and synthesize information about the technologies that have changed the way humans influence the inheritance of desired traits in organisms. MS-LS4-5

    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 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to developing, using, and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems.

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include constructing explanations and designing solutions supported by multiple sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Engaging in argument from evidence in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to constructing a convincing argument that supports or refutes claims for either explanations or solutions about 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


  • RI.6.8 - Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not. (MS-LS1-4)
  • RST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-LS1-4), (MS-LS1-5), (MS-LS3-1), (MS-LS3-2), (MS-LS4-5)
  • RST.6-8.2 - Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions. (MS-LS1-5)
  • RST.6-8.4 - Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6–8 texts and topics. (MS-LS3-1), (MS-LS3-2)
  • RST.6-8.7 - Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table). (MS-LS3-1), (MS-LS3-2)
  • SL.8.5 - Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest. (MS-LS3-1), (MS-LS3-2)
  • WHST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-LS1-4)
  • WHST.6-8.2 - Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. (MS-LS1-5)
  • WHST.6-8.8 - Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation. (MS-LS4-5)
  • WHST.6-8.9 - Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis reflection, and research. (MS-LS1-5)


  • 6.SP.A.2 - Understand that a set of data collected to answer a statistical question has a distribution which can be described by its center, spread, and overall shape. (MS-LS1-4), (MS-LS1-5)
  • 6.SP.B.4 - Display numerical data in plots on a number line, including dot plots, histograms, and box plots. (MS-LS1-4), (MS-LS1-5)
  • 6.SP.B.5 - Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context. (MS-LS3-2)
  • MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (MS-LS3-2)

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 short (1:05 min) slow motion video shows a bat using echolocation to capture a moth.     This phenomenon could stimulate the following driving questions: How do bats locate their prey in the dark? How can bats t ...

  •   This lesson is intended to help students understand what genetically modified foods (GMOs) are, how they were created, and their benefits and risks. Students are exposed to the variety of issues that surround genetically modified foods and ...

  •   This lesson provides two Claim-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) prompts that were developed through a collaboration between teachers at the Escobedo Middle School and the Boston Public Schools Science Department. The two prompts support student thi ...

  •   This news story describes a phenomenon that illustrates how traits are randomly passed from generation to generation. A photo in the story shows two young women whose physical traits are so different from one another that most people would ...

  • In this hands-on activity, students are investigating the phenomenon of human inheritance. They are seeking to explain why each person, except for identical twins, is unique in their appearance. The activity uses four differently shaped pasta to repr ...

  • The Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah created this website to be an informational resource to students learning about cloning technology. The website contains four informational sections and two interactive simulations. The re ...

  • 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 particul ...

  • 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 and co-authors. All assessment probes in this collection are aligned to a particular s ...

  • Lab 14 Variation in Traits: How Do Beetle Traits Vary Within and Across Species?  is one lab from the NSTA Press book, Argument-Driven Inquiry in Life Science. This lab introduces students to the variation that occurs within beetle species and a ...

  • In this activity, students will simulate how genes on chromosomes are passed from generation to generation while exploring color vision and its genetic history in humans and other primates. Students will explore the sex-linked trait of color vision a ...

  • This is one of many lessons provided by the California Academy of Sciences whose mission is to bring science to life in the classroom.In this activity, students learn about plant reproduction and use real data on flowers and the pollinators that visi ...

  • Lab 15. Mutations in Genes: How Do Different Types of Mutations in Genes Affect the Function of an Organism? is one lab from the NSTA Press book entitled Argument-Driven Inquiry in Life Science. This lab introduces students to the transfer of genetic ...

  • This activity allows students to simulate the processes of meiosis and fertilization as they investigate the inheritance of multiple genes. The simulation also allows the student to see the  cause and effect relationship of gene transmission fro ...

  • This activity demonstrates the effect of changes in the environment on the growth of plants. The plants are placed in environments such as high salinity, cold, heat, or drought and observe the different reactions (growth) of the plants to these condi ...

  • The Sesame Street Characters are used to: 1. Create a gene map for a particular Sesame Street character. 2. Move the resulting chromosomes through the steps of meiosis to produce the possible gametes of that individual character. 3. Choose a spouse a ...

  • In this activity, the learner explores various ways in which organisms reproduce. The learner discusses the role that reproduction plays in the cycle of life. By watching short videos and participating in follow-up discussion: 1. They observe ...

  • Students create and decode DNA for man’s best friend to observe how variations in DNA lead to the inheritance of different traits. Strips of paper that represent DNA are randomly selected and used to assemble the dog's DNA. Students read the DNA and ...

  • This online unit explores the theme of the National Zoo's Pollinarium exhibition: how plant and animal partners interact to accomplish pollination. It is a series of three lessons that allow the learner to explore and develop an understanding of the ...

  • This hands-on activity is a simulation of how mutations can affect survival skills in animals. The objective of this activity is to understand and observe how mutations can be useful, harmful or neutral adaptations. Students will also observe how mut ...

  • The learner will trace the family history of a horse named Junior as they explore why he has the characteristic traits that he does. The lesson includes an interview with a horse breeder and demonstrates how traits are passed from generation to gener ...

  • This lesson is a tool to demonstrate how various technological advances have changed the tomato and the tomato industry over the years. The technology includes both selective breeding and genetic engineering.

  • Students work in pairs to compare five aspects of an organism that reproduces sexually, asexually, or both sexually and asexually. The activity comes with a chart for the students to fill out and with information sheets on twelve organisms. As a clas ...

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