Curriculum and Instruction

Science Learning Standard
The Living Environment

Standard 4:

Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science.

Key Ideas & Performance Indicators:

Key Idea 1: Living things are both similar to and different from each other and nonliving things.

  • Elementary --
    • describe the characteristics of and variations between living and nonliving things
    • describe the life processes common to all living things
  • Intermediate --
    • compare and contrast the parts of plants, animals, and one-celled organisms
    • explain the functioning of the major human organ systems and their interactions
  • Commencement --
    • explain how diversity of populations within ecosystems relates to the stability of ecosystems
    • describe and explain the structures and functions of the human body at different organizational levels (e.g., systems, tissues, cells, organelles)
    • explain how a one-celled organism is able to function despite lacking the levels of organization present in more complex organisms

Key Idea 2: Organisms inherit genetic information in a variety of ways that result in continuity of structure and function between parents and offspring.

  • Elementary --
    • recognize that traits of living things are both inherited and acquired or learned
    • recognize that for humans and other living things there is genetic continuity between generations
  • Intermediate --
    • describe sexual and asexual mechanisms for passing genetic materials from generation to generation
    • describe simple mechanisms related to the inheritance of some physical traits in offspring
  • Commencement --
    • explain how the structure and replication of genetic material result in offspring that resemble their parents
    • explain how the technology of genetic engineering allows humans to alter the genetic makeup of organisms

Key Idea 3: Individual organisms and species change over time.

  • Elementary --
    • describe how the structures of plants and animals complement the environment of the plant or animal
    • observe that differences within a species may give individuals an advantage in surviving and reproducing
  • Intermediate --
    • describe sources of variation in organisms and their structures and relate the variations to survival
    • describe factors responsible for competition within species and the significance of that competition
  • Commencement --
    • explain the mechanisms and patterns of evolution

Key Idea 4: The continuity of life is sustained through reproduction and development.

  • Elementary --
    • describe the major stages in the life cycles of selected plants and animals
    • describe evidence of growth, repair, and maintenance, such as nails, hair, and bone, and the healing of cuts and bruises
  • Intermediate --
    • observe and describe the variations in reproductive patterns of organisms, including asexual and sexual reproduction
    • explain the role of sperm and egg cells in sexual reproduction
    • observe and describe developmental patterns in selected plants and animals (e.g., insects, frogs, humans, seed-bearing plants)
    • observe and describe cell division at the microscopic level and its macroscopic effects
  • Commencement --
    • explain how organisms, including humans, reproduce their own kind

Key Idea 5: Organisms maintain a dynamic equilibrium that sustains life.

  • Elementary --
    • describe basic life functions of common living specimens (guppy, mealworm, gerbil)
    • describe some survival behaviors of common living specimens
    • describe the factors that help promote good health and growth in humans
  • Intermediate --
    • compare the way a variety of living specimens carry out basic life functions and maintain dynamic equilibrium
    • describe the importance of major nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in maintaining health and promoting growth and explain the need for a constant input of energy for living organisms
  • Commencement --
    • explain the basic biochemical processes in living organisms and their importance in maintaining dynamic equilibrium
    • explain disease as a failure of homeostasis
    • relate processes at the system level to the cellular level in order to explain dynamic equilibrium in multicelled organisms systems, tissues, cells, organelles)

Key Idea 6: Plants and animals depend on each other and their physical environment.

  • Elementary --
    • describe how plants and animals, including humans, depend upon each other and the nonliving environment
    • describe the relationship of the sun as an energy source for living and nonliving cycles
  • Intermediate --
    • describe the flow of energy and matter through food chains and food webs
    • provide evidence that green plants make food and explain the significance of this process to other organisms
  • Commencement --
    • explain factors that limit growth of individuals and populations
    • explain the importance of preserving diversity of species and habitats
    • explain how the living and nonliving environments change over time and respond to disturbances

Key Idea 7: Human decisions and activities have had a profound impact on the physical and living environment.

  • Elementary --
    • identify ways in which humans have changed their environment and the effects of those changes
  • Intermediate --
    • describe how living things, including humans, depend upon the living and nonliving environment for their survival
    • describe the effects of environmental changes on humans and other populations
  • Commencement --
    • describe the range of interrelationships of humans with the living and nonliving environment
    • explain the impact of technological development and growth in the human population on the living and nonliving environment
    • explain how individual choices and societal actions can contribute to improving the environment
Last Updated: May 8, 2009