LS-3 Structures of Life

The anchor phenomenon for the Structures of Life Module is the diversity of plants and animals we observe in our world. Students experience that organisms exhibit a variety of strategies for life, have a variety of observable structures and behaviors, have varied but predictable life cycles, and reproduce their own kind by passing inherited characteristics to offspring. Students explore how individual organisms have variations in their traits that may provide an advantage in surviving in a particular environment, and how our knowledge of animals that survived in past environments is inferred by studying fossil characteristics. The driving questions for the module are where do organisms come from, how do they survive, and how are all the different kinds of plants and animals able to continue to exist on Earth?

Students observe, compare, and categorize a selection of organisms. Students engage in science and engineering practices to investigate structures and learn how some of the structures function. Students look at the interactions between organisms of the same kind, among organisms of different kinds, and between the environment and populations over time. Students focus on these crosscutting concepts to develop understandings about organisms and population survival—patterns; cause and effect; scale, proportion, and quantity; systems and system models; structure and function; and stability and change.

Investigation 1: Origin of Seeds
Students conduct a seed hunt by opening fresh fruit and locating the seeds. They describe and compare seed properties. Students examine and sort a selection of seeds—bean, pea, sunflower, and corn. They investigate the effect water has on seeds by setting up seed sprouters and observing and recording changes over a week. Students systematically find out how much water lima beans soak up in a day. Students investigate seed dispersal mechanisms of plants.

Investigation 2: Growing Further
Students examine germinated seeds to determine similarities and differences in the way the organisms grow. They set up a hydroponic garden to observe the life cycle of a bean plant. Students go outdoors to investigate the roots and shoots of various plants. They use tools to dig up plants and compare the structures above ground to those below ground. Through direct experience and readings, students learn about plant structures and functions.

Investigation 3: Bones
Students observe the articulated human skeletal system in action, use posters and a sense of touch to estimate and refine a count of the 206 human bones, and build skeleton puzzles from memory. Students dissect rodent bones from owl pellets and compare them to human bones. 

Investigation 4: Joints
Students explore joints and their role in movement focusing on opposable thumbs. 


NOTE: 
The Structures of Life kit we provide is a combination of activities from two older FOSS Kits.  Investigations 1 & 2 come from the 2nd Edition Structures of Life Kit, and Investigations 3 & 4 are the first two investigations of the 2nd Edition Human Body Kit.  We’ve combined these two kits to better fit the intent of the BGSS, to provide some Human Body activities asked for by the teachers, and to eliminate the need for Crayfish – an organism no longer allowed from out of state suppliers.


NGSS Standards Addressed
By the end of grade 5. Reproduction is essential to the continued existence of every kind of organism. Plants and animals have unique and diverse life cycles that include being born (sprouting in plants), growing, developing into adults, reproducing, and eventually dying.
  • Reproduction is essential to the continued existence of every kind of organism. Plants and animals have unique and diverse life cycles.
By the end of grade 5. When the environment changes in ways that affect a place’s physical characteristics, temperature, or availability of resources, some organisms survive and reproduce, others move to new locations, yet others move into the transformed environment, and some die.
  • When the environment changes in ways that affect a place’s physical characteristics, temperature, or availability of resources, some organisms survive and reproduce, others move to new locations, yet others move into the transformed environment, and some die.
By the end of grade 5. Many characteristics of organisms are inherited from their parents. Other characteristics result from individuals’ interactions with the environment, which can range from diet to learning. Many characteristics involve both inheritance and environment.
  • Many characteristics of organisms are inherited from their parents.
  • Other characteristics result from individuals’ interactions with the environment, which can range from diet to learning. Many characteristics involve both inheritance and environment.
By the end of grade 5. Offspring acquire a mix of traits from their biological parents. Different organisms vary in how they look and function because they have different inherited information. In each kind of organism there is variation in the traits themselves, and different kinds of organisms may have different versions of the trait. The environment also affects the traits that an organism develops—differences in where they grow or in the food they consume may cause organisms that are related to end up looking or behaving differently.
  • Different organisms vary in how they look and function because they have different inherited information.
  • The environment also affects the traits that an organism develops.
By the end of grade 5. Sometimes the differences in characteristics between individuals of the same species provide advantages in surviving, finding mates, and reproducing.
  • Sometimes the differences in characteristics between individuals of the same species provide advantages in surviving, finding mates, and reproducing.
By the end of grade 5. Changes in an organism’s habitat are sometimes beneficial to it and sometimes harmful. For any particular environment, some kinds of organisms survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
  • For any particular environment, some kinds of organisms survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
By the end of grade 5. Scientists have identified and classified many plants and animals. Populations of organisms live in a variety of habitats, and change in those habitats affects the organisms living there. Humans, like all other organisms, obtain living and nonliving resources from their environments.
  • Populations live in a variety of habitats, and change in those habitats affects the organisms living there.

Science and Engineering Practices

Asking Questions and Defining Problems - in grades 3–5 builds from grades K–2 experiences and progresses to specifying qualitative relationships.
Ask questions about what would happen if a variable is changed.
  • Identify scientific (testable) and non-scientific (non-testable) questions.
  • Ask questions that can be investigated and predict reasonable outcomes based on patterns such as cause and effect relationships.
  • Use prior knowledge to describe problems that can be solved.
  • Define a simple design problem that can be solved through the development of an object, tool, process, or system and includes several criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Developing & Using Models - in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to building and revising simple models and using models to represent events and design solutions.
  • Identify limitations of models.
  • Collaboratively develop and/or revise a model based on evidence that shows the relationships among variables for frequent and regular occurring events.
  • Develop a model using an analogy, example, or abstract representation to describe a scientific principle or design solution.
  • Develop and/or use models to describe and/or predict phenomena.
  • Develop a diagram or simple physical prototype to convey a proposed object, tool, or process.
  • Use a model to test cause and effect relationships or interactions concerning the functioning of a natural or designed system.
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations - in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to include investigations that control variables and provide evidence to support explanations or design solutions.
  • Plan and conduct an investigation collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence, using fair tests in which variables are controlled and the number of trials considered.
  • Evaluate appropriate methods and/or tools for collecting data.
  • Make observations and/or measurements to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence for an explanation of a phenomenon or test a design solution.
  • Make predictions about what would happen if a variable changes.
  • Test two different models of the same proposed object, tool, or process to determine which better meets criteria for success.
Analyzing and Interpreting Data  in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to introducing quantitative approaches to collecting data and conducting multiple trials of qualitative observations. When possible and feasible, digital tools should be used.
  • Represent data in tables and/or various graphical displays (bar graphs, pictographs, and/or pie charts) to reveal patterns that indicate relationships.
  • Analyze and interpret data to make sense of phenomena, using logical reasoning, mathematics, and/or computation.
  • Compare and contrast data collected by different groups in order to discuss similarities and differences in their findings.
  • Analyze data to refine a problem statement or the design of a proposed object, tool, or process.
  • Use data to evaluate and refine design solutions.
Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking - at the 3–5 level builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to extending quantitative measurements to a variety of physical properties and using computation and mathematics to analyze data and compare alternative design solutions.
  • Decide if qualitative or quantitative data are best to determine whether a proposed object or tool meets criteria for success.
  • Organize simple data sets to reveal patterns that suggest relationships.
  • Describe, measure, estimate, and/or graph quantities such as area, volume, weight, and time to address scientific and engineering questions and problems.
  • Create and/or use graphs and/or charts generated from simple algorithms to compare alternative solutions to an engineering problem
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions - in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to the use of evidence in constructing explanations that specify variables that describe and predict phenomena and in designing multiple solutions to design problems.
  • Construct an explanation of observed relationships (e.g., the distribution of plants in the back yard).
  • Use evidence (e.g., measurements, observations, patterns) to construct or support an explanation or design a solution to a problem.
  • Identify the evidence that supports particular points in an explanation.
  • Apply scientific ideas to solve design problems.
  • Generate and compare multiple solutions to a problem based on how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the design solution.
Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information - in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to evaluating the merit and accuracy of ideas and methods.
Obtain and combine information from books and other reliable media to explain phenomena.
  • Read and comprehend grade-appropriate complex texts and/or other reliable media to summarize and obtain scientific and technical ideas and describe how they are supported by evidence.
  • Compare and/or combine across complex texts and/or other reliable media to support the engagement in other scientific and/or engineering practices.
  • Combine information in written text with that contained in corresponding tables, diagrams, and/or charts to support the engagement in other scientific and/or engineering practices.
  • Obtain and combine information from books and/or other reliable media to explain phenomena or solutions to a design problem.
  • Communicate scientific and/or technical information orally and/or in written formats, including various forms of media and may include tables, diagrams, and charts.

Crosscutting Concepts

Patterns Observed patterns in nature guide organization and classification and prompt questions about relationships and causes underlying them.
  • Similarities and differences in patterns can be used to sort, classify, communicate and analyze simple rates of change for natural phenomena and designed products.
  • Patterns of change can be used to make predictions
  • Patterns can be used as evidence to support an explanation.
Cause and Effect - Events have causes, sometimes simple, sometimes multifaceted. Deciphering causal relationships, and the mechanisms by which they are mediated, is a major activity of science and engineering.
  • Cause and effect relationships are routinely identified, tested, and used to explain change.
  • Events that occur together with regularity might or might not be a cause and effect relationship.
Scale, Proportion, and Quantity In considering phenomena, it is critical to recognize what is relevant at different size, time, and energy scales, and to recognize proportional relationships between different quantities as scales change. 
  • Natural objects and/or observable phenomena exist from the very small to the immensely large or from very short to very long time periods.
  • Standard units are used to measure and describe physical quantities such as weight, time, temperature, and volume.
Systems and System Models - A system is an organized group of related objects or components; models can be used for understanding and predicting the behavior of systems.
  • A system can be described in terms of its components and their interactions.
  • A system is a group of related parts that make up a whole and can carry out functions its individual parts cannot.
Structure and Function - The way an object is shaped or structured determines many of its properties and functions.
  • Different materials have different substructures, which can sometimes be observed.
  • Substructures have shapes and parts that serve functions.
Stability and Change - For both designed and natural systems, conditions that affect stability and factors that control rates of change are critical elements to consider and understand.
  • Change is measured in terms of differences over time and may occur at different rates.
  • Some systems appear stable, but over long periods of time will eventually change.


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