Course Summary – Diversity of Life
The anchor phenomenon investigated in this course is life on Earth. Life has existed on Earth for a very, very long time, more than 3.5 billion years, in fact. Over the millennia, an amazing variety of life has evolved. From humble single-celled beginnings in water to incredibly complex and large multicellular organisms that exist in the widest range of habitats imaginable, the diversity of life that currently exists boggles the mind.
Middle school students are ready to consider what it means to be a living organism. What are the characteristics that scientists use to define life? Are those characteristics hard and fast or are they flexible? Does something as outlandish as an archaea that lives in boiling hot springs or a virus that depends upon other life-forms to reproduce fit into the definition students create? Students consider these questions as they encounter life throughout the course. The driving question for the course is how do you know something is living?
As these students will inherit Earth, their understanding of life may lead to a more robust and informed response to the rapid loss of diversity.
For a description of each investigation in Diversity of Life and correlations to the Next Generation Science Standards, download the Diversity of Life Course Overview PDF.
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