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Archived Information

Science and Technology/Engineering
Curriculum Framework - Spring 2001

Life Science (Biology), Grades 3-5

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Additional Ideas for Developing Investigations and Learning Experiences and Suggested Extensions to Learning in Technology/Engineering are in Appendix III.

Learning Standard Ideas For Developing Investigations And Learning Experiences Suggested Extensions To Learning In Technology/Engineering
Characteristics of Plants and Animals
  1. Classify plants and animals according to the physical characteristics that they share.
  • Sort plant and animal pictures based on physical characteristics.
  • Use a dichotomous key to identify plants.
  • Create a simple chart to classify plants and animals that are common to the school's geographical area. (T/E 2.2)
Plant Structures and Functions
  1. Identify the structures in plants (leaves, roots, flowers, stem, bark, wood) that are responsible for food production, support, water transport, reproduction, growth, and protection.
  • Observe plant/pollinator interaction and seed dispersal methods.
  • Study maple trees and go maple sugaring. Identify the structures in the maple tree and their functions.
  • Collect plants. Make a detailed drawing of a plant. Identify and label its major structures, i.e., leaves, flowers, stems, roots, seeds. Describe the function of each structure. (T/E 2.2, 2.3)
  1. Recognize that plants and animals go through predictable life cycles that include birth, growth, development, reproduction, and death.
  • Grow plants from seed. Document the complete life cycle of the plant. Emphasize emergence of structures and the functions of these structures. Record changes in height over time. Graph the data.
  • Design and construct a habitat for a small animal (e.g., insect, butterfly, frog) that has adequate space and contains the necessities for survival. The habitat should allow for observation of the animal as it goes through the stages of its life cycle. (T/E 1.1, 1.2, 2.1-2.3)
  1. Describe the major stages that characterize the life cycle of the frog and butterfly as they go through metamorphosis.
  • Using either live organisms or pictures/models, observe the changes in form during the life cycle of a butterfly or frog.
  1. Differentiate between observed characteristics of plants and animals that are fully inherited (e.g., color of flower, shape of leaves, color of eyes, number of appendages) and characteristics that are affected by the climate or environment (e.g., browning of leaves due to too much sun, language spoken).
  • Make frequency tables of the number of students with certain inherited physical traits, e.g., eye color, hair color, earlobe free or attached.
Adaptation of Living Things
  1. Give examples of how inherited characteristics may change over time as adaptations to changes in the environment that enable organisms to survive, e.g., shape of beak or feet, placement of eyes on head, length of neck, shape of teeth, color.
  • Compare and contrast the physical characteristics of plants or animals from widely different environments (desert vs. tropical plants, aquatic vs. terrestrial animals). Explore how each is adapted to its habitat.
  • Discuss how engineers design things by using their knowledge of the way that animals move, e.g., birds and wings influence airplane design, tails and fins of aquatic animals influence boat design. (T/E 2.4)
  1. Give examples of how changes in the environment (drought, cold) have caused some plants and animals to die or move to new locations (migration).
  • Investigate how invasive species out-compete native plants, e.g., phragmites and purple loosestrife. Discuss how some native plants die as a result.
  1. Describe how organisms meet some of their needs in an environment by using behaviors (patterns of activities) in response to information (stimuli) received from the environment. Recognize that some animal behaviors are instinctive (e.g., turtles burying their eggs), and others are learned (e.g., humans building fires for warmth, chimpanzees learning how to use tools).
  • Discuss how newly born sea turtles find their way to the ocean.
  • Discuss how pets are trained to learn new tricks.
  • Discuss how migrating birds navigate.
  • Discuss the actions that coastal species take to adjust to the changing level of the tide.
  • Observe an earthworm placed on top of soil in a container that is exposed to light. Discuss how its ability to sense light helps it survive (by burrowing) and how its structure allows it to burrow through soil.
  1. Recognize plant behaviors, such as the way seedlings' stems grow toward light and their roots grow downward in response to gravity. Recognize that many plants and animals can survive harsh environments because of seasonal behaviors, e.g., in winter, some trees shed leaves, some animals hibernate, and other animals migrate.
  • Set a germinating bean in a glass filled with water next to an asymmetric source of light. Allow the root and stem to grow a few inches. Rotate the bean so that the roots are now touching the water at an angle and the stem is away from the light source. Observe how the root system and stem respond to this change by changing their direction of growth.
  1. Give examples of how organisms can cause changes in their environment to ensure survival. Explain how some of these changes may affect the ecosystem.
  • Discuss the importance of wetlands to human survival.
  • Investigate how an invasive species changes an ecosystem.
  • Research local projects where humans are changing the environment to ensure a species' survival.
  • Brainstorm and sketch things in the home that are designed to help humans survive, e.g., heater for warmth, stove to cook. (T/E 2.1, 2.2)
Energy and Living Things
  1. Describe how energy derived from the sun is used by plants to produce sugars (photosynthesis) and is transfer-red within a foodchain from producers (plants) to consumers to decomposers.
  • Make a food chain. Begin with the sun as the source of energy and end with decomposers. Create links that show the relationship of plants and animals in the chain. Show the direction of the flow of energy. Discuss results if various links in the chain are broken.
  • Design and build a compost bin. Use a thermometer to measure the temperature rise during composting. Discuss where heat (energy) comes from (decomposers metabolize energy stored by producers and consumers). (T/E 1.2)

Last Updated: May 1, 2001
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