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The Living Earth - High School Three Course Model


High School Living Earth Course Storyline

Instructional Segment  Description
1
Ecosystem Interactions and Energy 
Students use mathematical and computer models to determine the factors that affect the size and diversity of populations in ecosystems, including the availability of resources and interactions between organisms.
2
History of Earth’s Atmosphere: Photosynthesis and Respiration
Students make a model that links photosynthesis and respiration in organisms to cycles of energy and matter in the Earth system. They gather evidence about the linked history of Earth’s biosphere and atmosphere.
3
Evidence of Evolution
Students develop a model about how rock layers record evidence of evolution as fossils. Building on their learning from previous grades, they focus on effectively communicating this evidence and relate it to principles of natural selection.
4
Inheritance of traits
Students develop explanations about the specific mechanisms that enable parents to pass traits on to their offspring. They make claims about which processes give rise to variation in DNA codes and calculate the probability that offspring will inherit traits from their parents.  
5
Structure, Function, and Growth (from cells to organisms) 
Students use models to create explanations of how cells use DNA to construct proteins, build biomass, reproduce, and create complex multicellular organisms. They investigate how these organisms maintain stability.
6
Ecosystem Stability & the Response to Climate Change 
Students use computer models to investigate how Earth’s systems respond to changes, including climate change. They make specific forecasts and design solutions to mitigate the impacts of these changes on the biosphere.  



 

Instructional Segment 1: Ecosystem Interactions and Energy

Students use mathematical and computer models to determine the factors that affect the size and diversity of populations in ecosystems, including the availability of resources and interactions between organisms.

Overview from CA Science Framework

Bundled NGSS Standards for this Segment

Individual Performance Expectations included in this Segment:
HS-LS2-1, HS-LS2-2, HS-LS2-4, HS-LS2-8

Disciplinary Core Ideas in this Segment:
LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
LS2.B: Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems 
LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience
LS2.D: Social Interactions and Group Behavior

Guiding Questions:

  • What factors affect the size of populations within an ecosystem?
  • What are common threats to remaining natural ecosystems and biodiversity?
  • How can these threats be reduced?



Instructional Segment 2: History of Earth’s Atmosphere: Photosynthesis and Respiration

Students make a model that links photosynthesis and respiration in organisms to cycles of energy and matter in the Earth system. They gather evidence about the linked history of Earth’s biosphere and atmosphere.

Overview from CA Science Framework

Bundled NGSS Standards for this Segment

Individual Performance Expectations included in this Segment:
HS-LS1-5, HS-LS1-6, HS-LS1-7, HS-LS2-3, HS-LS2-5, HS-ESS1-6, HS-ESS2-7, HS-ESS3-6

Disciplinary Core Ideas in this Segment:
PS1.C: Nuclear Processes 
PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes
LS1.C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms 
LS2.B: Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems 
ESS1.C: The History of Planet Earth
ESS2.D: Weather and Climate
ESS2.E: Biogeology
ESS3.D: Global Climate Change  

Guiding Questions:

  • How do living things acquire energy and matter for life?
  • How do organisms store energy?
  • How are photosynthesis and cellular respiration connected?
  • How do organisms use the raw materials they ingest from the environment?
  • How has the cycling of energy and matter changed over Earth’s history?

 


Instructional Segment 3: Evidence of Evolution

Students develop a model about how rock layers record evidence of evolution as fossils. Building on their learning from previous grades, they focus on effectively communicating this evidence and relate it to principles of natural selection.

Overview from CA Science Framework

Bundled NGSS Standards for this Segment

Individual Performance Expectations included in this Segment:
HS-LS4-1, HS-LS4-2, HS-LS4-4, HS-LS4-5, HS-ESS1-5, HS-ESS2-5, HS-ESS3-1, HS-ESS3-4, HS-ETS1-3

Disciplinary Core Ideas in this Segment:
PS1.C: Nuclear Processes 
LS4.A: Evidence of Common Ancestry and Diversity
LS4.B: Natural Selection
LS4.C: Adaptation
ESS1.C: The History of Planet Earth
ESS2.B: Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions
ESS2.C: The Roles of Water in Earth’s Surface Processes
ESS3.A: Natural Resources
ESS3.B: Natural Hazards
ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems
ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

Guiding Questions:

  • How do layers of rock form and how do they contain fossils?
  • Why do we see fossils across the world from each other but living organisms that are very different from each other?
  • What evidence shows that different species are related?
  • How did modern day humans evolve?

 


Instructional Segment 4: Inheritance of Traits

Students develop explanations about the specific mechanisms that enable parents to pass traits on to their offspring. They make claims about which processes give rise to variation in DNA codes and calculate the probability that offspring will inherit traits from their parents.  

Overview from CA Science Framework

Bundled NGSS Standards for this Segment

Individual Performance Expectations included in this Segment:
HS-LS3-1, HS-LS3-2, HS-LS3-3, HS-LS4-2, HS-LS4-3

Disciplinary Core Ideas in this Segment:
LS1.A: Structure and Function
LS3.A: Inheritance of Traits
LS3.B: Variation of Traits
LS4.B: Natural Selection
LS4.C: Adaptation

Guiding Questions:

  • How are characteristics of one generation passed to the next?
  • What allows traits to be transmitted from parents to offspring?
  • How does variation affect a population under selective pressures?

 


Instructional Segment 5: Structure, Function, and Growth (from Cells to Organisms)

Students use models to create explanations of how cells use DNA to construct proteins, build biomass, reproduce, and create complex multicellular organisms. They investigate how these organisms maintain stability.

Overview from CA Science Framework

Bundled NGSS Standards for this Segment

Individual Performance Expectations included in this Segment:
HS-LS1-1, HS-LS1-2, HS-LS1-3, HS-LS1-4

Disciplinary Core Ideas in this Segment:
LS1.A: Structure and Function
LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms

Guiding Questions:

  • What happens if a cell in our body dies?
  • How does the structure of DNA affect how cells look and behave?
  • How do systems work in a multi-celled organism and what happens if there is a change in the system?
  • How do organisms survive even when there are changes in their environment?

 


Instructional Segment 6: Ecosystem Stability & the Response to Climate Change

Students use computer models to investigate how Earth’s systems respond to changes, including climate change. They make specific forecasts and design solutions to mitigate the impacts of these changes on the biosphere.  

Overview from CA Science Framework

Bundled NGSS Standards for this Segment

Individual Performance Expectations included in this Segment:
HS-LS2-6, HS-LS2-7, HS-LS4-5, HS-LS4-6, HS-ESS3-5, HS-ESS3-6, HS-ETS1-1, HS-EST1-2, HS-ETS1-3, HS-ETS1-4

Disciplinary Core Ideas in this Segment:

LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience
LS4.C: Adaptation
LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans 
ESS2.D: Weather and Climate
ESS3.D: Global Climate Change
ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions
ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution

Guiding Questions:

  • What effects changes in ecosystems that ultimately effect populations?
  • What are the changes that are happening in the climate and what effects are those having on life?
  • How are human activities impacting Earth’s systems and how does that affect life on Earth?
  • What can humans do to mitigate their negative impact on the environment?
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