What is life?
We usually know it when we see it, but what is it? This course
introduces students to the big picture of life on Earth. Students
discover that all living things, despite their complexity,
share the same basic characteristics. Students learn that
all organisms (bacteria, protists, fungi, plants, and animals)
are composed of cells, and that a single cell is the fundamental
unit of life. Students explore the relationship of organisms
to their environment, and recognize life as a temporary condition
experienced for various lengths of time by all living things.
It is our hope that, in their efforts to answer the question
"What is life?" students will develop an appreciation
for the awesome diversity of life on Earth and a personal
interest in life in all its forms.
Investigation 1: What is Life?
prompts students to think about characteristics that are common
to all living organisms and develops an operational definition
of life that will be refined throughout this course. Investigation
2: Introduction to the Microscope acquaints
students with the microscope as a tool used by scientists to
study organisms in detail. Investigation 3:
In Microscopic Life students discover
cells and begin to understand their importance as the basic
units of life. Investigation 4: The Cell
teaches students to recognize cells as the basic unit of life
and to appreciate the diversity of cells that contribute to
the diversity of life on Earth. Investigation 5:
In Seeds of Life students recognize
that seeds are living organisms in a dormant state. They observe
and describe the first developmental stages of a plant. Investigation 6: In Transpiration
students conduct investigations to understand how the vascular
system transports water throughout a plant and how stomates
on leaves regulate the rate of water flow through a plant. Investigation 7: In Plant Reproduction
students investigate the reproductive systems in flowers to
understand the origin of seeds, and to explore plant adaptations
for seed dispersal. Investigation 8: In
Snails students observe and analyze
snail structures and behaviors in order to set up a secure and
supportive habitat in which snails can live. Investigation
9: Roaches introduces the concept of adaptation
by pointing out the structures and behaviors of an insect and
relates those adaptations to the roach's natural history and
habitat. Investigation 10: In Kingdoms
of Life students explore the Monera (bacteria),
Protista (algae), and Fungi kingdoms to understand their roles
in the scheme of life
The New Plants module provides experiences that heighten
young students’ awareness of the diversity of life in
the plant kingdom. Students care for plants to learn what
they need to grow and develop. They observe the structures
of flowering plants and discover ways to propagate new plants
from mature plants (from seeds, bulbs, roots, and stem cuttings).
They observe and describe changes that occur as plants grow,
and organize their observations on a calendar and in a journal.
FOSS expects students to:
Develop a curiosity and interest in plants as living things.
Experience some of the diversity of forms in the plant kingdom
Provide for the needs of growing plants.
Observe and describe the changes that occur as plants grow
Become familiar with the structures and functions of flowering
plants (root, stem, leaf, bud, flower, seed).
Discover various ways that new plants can develop from mature
Compare change over time in different kinds of plants.
Organize and communicate observations through drawing and
An ecosystem is the largest organizational unit of life on
Earth, defined by a physical environment and the organisms
that make their living there. Students learn that every organism
has a role to play in its ecosystem, and has structures and
behaviors that allow it to survive. This course provides the
first steps of ecological understanding for students, with
the hope that their future steps will be considered and measured,
with the interests of all life being served
1. In Milkweed Bugs students explore
reproductive biology and population dynamics.
2. Sorting out Life introduces students
3. In Miniecosystems students investigate
4. In Mono Lake students investigate
5. In Finding the Energy students
learn that food energy is derived from the Sun, which drives
6. In Population Size students explore
factors that limit population size.
7. In Ecoscenarios students research
and analyze ecosystems.
8. Adaptations introduces students
to the concepts of adaptation and variation.
9. In Genetic Variation students
learn genetic mechanisms to determine traits of individuals
in a population.
10. Natural Selection introduces
students to environmental pressures.
of Life module consists of four sequential investigations
dealing with observable characteristics of organisms. Students
observe, compare, categorize, and care for a selection of
organisms, and in so doing they learn to identify properties
of plants and animals and to sort and group organisms on the
basis of observable properties. Students investigate structures
of the organisms and learn how some of the structures function
in growth and survival.
FOSS expects students to:
Develop an attitude of respect for life.
Gain experience with organisms, both plants and animals.
Observe and compare properties of seeds and fruits.
Investigate the effect of water on seeds.
Observe, describe, and record properties of germinated seeds.
Compare different kinds of germinated seeds.
Grow plants hydroponically and observe the life cycle of
a bean plant.
Observe and record crayfish and land snail structures and
Use knowledge of crayfish and snail life requirements to
maintain the organisms in the classroom.
Organize data about crayfish territorial behavior.
Develop responsibility for the care of organisms.
Exercise language, art, social studies, and math skills
in the context of life science.
Use scientific thinking processes to conduct investigations
and build explanations: observing, communicating, comparing,
How is a pill bug different from a snail? Do a pine tree and a guppy have anything in common? By observing various plants and animals, you'll help students begin to understand the diversity of life around them. With these activities, you'll encourage students to observe and detail similarities and differences in living things.
This is a very exciting unit for young students because they have a chance to observe, touch, hold, and care for a number of living things as they plant seeds and observe and record their growth, construct terraria and aquaria and stock each with plants and animals, and compare observations of the terrestrial & aquatic habitats in terms of the needs, behavior, and changes in the animals and plants in each.
The two use kit comes with all of the great materials you’d expect from the STC Program™, along with a box containing the materials for a second, non-concurrent use. All you need to do is set the box aside until you are ready for it.
This economical, 33" skeleton has remarkable
detail and full, natural movement. All bones are individually
wired and the arms, legs, and skull are removable for close-up
study. Constructed of sturdy plastic with dust cover and heavy,
and Digital Camera
Ken-A-Vision CoreScope comes with a multi-directional
round floating stage, high-quality glass optics, incandescent
lighting, and separate coarse and fine focusing knobs, making
it easier for the students to use.
PupilCAM 2.0 is a 1.3-megapixel, high-resolution
microscope camera with digital CMOS technology. It has an
attached 5-ft USB cable for direct computer interface and
a built-in microscope adapter to provide a secure, precise
attachment to a microscope or stereomicroscope
Blue Planet: Seas of Life DVD
The Blue Planet: Seas of Life is the definitive exploration
of the marine world, chronicling the mysteries of the deep,
coastline populations, sea mammals, tidal and climatic influences,
and the complete biological system that relies on and revolves
around the world's oceans
Department of Physics, Astronomy & Geosciences
Smith Hall, Room 445 (map)
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.