Diversity of Life

Next Generation

Resources by Investigation

Resources by Investigation
Investigation 1: What Is Life?
Students begin their investigation of life by thinking about the characteristics and requirements that all life has. They start developing a definition of life that will guide them throughout the course.
Investigation 1, Part 1: Living or Nonliving
Students observe and record the antics of a mysterious material when it is placed on water. They work in groups to sort pictures of objects into living and nonliving categories, defining the characteristics that qualify objects as living. The pictures are displayed in class so that students can reevaluate their decisions as the course progresses. Students set up minihabitats for future study, using organic materials collected locally.
Investigation 1, Part 2: Is Anything Alive in Here?
Students place five unidentified materials (sand, yeast, polyacrylate beads, radish seeds, and brine shrimp eggs) in different environments and observe what happens over several days. They determine if each material is living and record the evidence that supports their determinations. Students are introduced to the distinctions between living, nonliving, dormant, and dead.
Investigation 2: The Microscope
Students learn to use a tool, the compound microscope, that opens up the world of microorganisms and cells. They use the diameter of the field of view to estimate the size of organisms that are invisible to the naked ey
Investigation 2, Part 1: Meet the Microscope
Investigation 2, Part 2: Field of View
Students are introduced to the concept of scale. They use small, transparent millimeter rulers to discover the diameter of the field of view at various magnifications. They use this information to estimate the size of two organisms at different magnifications. Practice with digital resources reinforces the skills learned.
Investigation 3: The Cell
Students discover cells and think about what it means to be a single-celled or multicellular organism. They add “made of cells” to their definition of life. They learn that cells are made of structures that enable the functions of life.
Investigation 3, Part 3: Microworlds
Students explore the minihabitats they created, and appreciate the diversity in aquatic microorganisms. Students consider where life in the minihabitats came from and recognize that the organisms they observe were always present, only dormant.
Investigation 4: Domains
Students learn about the levels of complexity (from atom to cell) in a card sort and begin to apply their burgeoning understanding of life to unfamiliar organisms. They apply their life criteria to determine if these specimens are actually living. Students are introduced to the domain system of classification.
Investigation 4, Part 1: Comparing Living Things
Investigation 4, Part 2: Bacteria
For several days, students make observations of the cultures they started in Part 1. They look for evidence that bacteria are living organisms and find out more about the role bacteria play on Earth. Students sample various foods that bacteria helped create. The structures and functions of bacterial cells are introduced as a way to help students consider how like bacteria they are.
Investigation 4, Part 3: Fungi
Investigation 4, Part 4: Archaea: The Three Domains
Investigation 5: Plants: The Vascular System
Students conduct an investigation to understand how the vascular system transports water throughout a vascular plant. They are introduced to photosynthesis and aerobic cellular respiration, two important life processes. Students extend the levels of complexity to include multicellular organisms, moving from cells to tissues, to organs, to organ systems, and finally to multicellular organisms.
Investigation 5, Part 1: What Happened to the Water?
Investigation 5, Part 2: Looking at Plant Structures
Students observe that red food coloring flows through the vascular system of a celery stalk, turning the leaves and veins red. This suggests that water moves to the leaves and escapes. Students remove the xylem in celery and observe stomata in plant leaves. Students set up a plastic bag to capture water as it exits a plant growing in the schoolyard.
Investigation 5, Part 3: Transpiration and Photosynthesis
Students collect the water captured in their plastic bags. This provides evidence that water is escaping from the plant, most likely through the stomata. Students learn about the process of transpiration and turn their attention to how water is used in a plant to make food during photosynthesis. They are introduced to the levels of complexity in a multicellular organism.
Investigation 6: Plant Reproduction and Growth
Students dissect a seed and then plant various grains to investigate how the environmental factor of salinity affects their germination and growth. They enter into the world of flowering plant reproduction and discover the relationship between flowers and pollinators.
Investigation 6, Part 1: Lima Bean Dissection
Students soak a lima bean seed in warm water for a few minutes and explore the structural adaptations of the seed to gather information about how a seed and newly germinated plant survive. Students add to their understanding that a dormant seed is alive.
Investigation 6, Part 2: Environmental and Genetic Factors
Students investigate how increasing salinity affects the germination and growth of food crops. They compare four grains (corn, wheat, barley, and oats) to determine that the different grains have varying levels of salt tolerance. This leads to a discussion on genetic factors.
Investigation 6, Extensions
Investigation 7: Variation of Traits
Students compare the process of a sexual reproduction of protists to sexual reproduction in flowering plants and most animals. Students use a model to determine how characteristics are inherited and learn the language of genetics.
Investigation 7, Part 1: Inheriting Traits
Students draw on the concepts developed in prior investigations and compare asexual reproduction (in bacteria and protists) to sexual reproduction (in plants). Students observe the variation of four human features to determine what traits they have. They determine the distribution of the traits in the class. A video introduces students to the structures and mechanisms of heredity. They study pea plant traits and the experiments that Gregor Mendel conducted that led him to infer the principles of inheritance.
Investigation 7, Part 2: Modeling Heredity
Investigation 8: Insects
Students encounter the Madagascar hissing cockroach, which extends the world of multicellular organisms. They compare the vascular system of vascular plants to the transport systems of insects and humans.
Investigation 8, Part 1: Structure, Function, and Behavior
Investigation 8, Part 2: Insect Systems
Students review the levels of complexity. They use online activities to compare the insect circulatory system to the plant vascular system and the human cardiovascular (circulatory) system.
Investigation 9: Diversity of Life
Students conduct a bioblitz to learn about the biodiversity that exists in their area. They conclude their study of life by considering the question of viruses.
Investigation 9, Part 2: What Is Life?
Students examine their Living/Nonliving class cards and find that there is one card that they have not been able to sort, the rhinovirus. They think about their own prior knowledge and then explore viruses to determine whether viruses are living organisms.