Science
Strand III
Use Scientific Knowledge from the Life Sciences in Real-World Contexts

 

Science/Strand III
Content Standard 4
All students will explain how scientists construct and scientifically test theories concerning the origin of life and evolution of species; compare ways that living organisms are adapted (suited) to survive and reproduce in their environments; and analyze how species change through time. (Evolution)

 

Science/Strand III/Content Standard 4
Middle School

 

Science/Strand III/Content Standard 4/Middle School
Benchmark 1
Describe how scientific theory traces possible evolutionary relationships among present and past life forms.

Benchmark Clarification

Remains of organisms and fossils are found in rock layers or uncovered by excavation or erosion. From this physical evidence, scientists have constructed the geologic time scale. By studying remains, examining physiological structures, or conducting chemical tests (carbon dating) and genetic analysis, scientists can infer the relationship between present and past life forms.

Evolutionary trees or diagrams, similarities in bone structure, or embryos of vertebrates may represent common ancestry. Present species may be modified descendants of more primitive ancestors.

Students will:

  • Compare and contrast present-day living things and ancient life forms
  • Demonstrate the concept of common ancestry

Key Concept / Real World Context / Instructional Example / Assessment Example / Resources

 

Science/Strand III/Content Standard 4/Middle School/Benchmark 1
Key Concept
Selected evidence of common ancestry:

  • geologic time
  • fossil
  • bone
  • embryo
  • limb

 

Science/Strand III/Content Standard 4/Middle School/Benchmark 1
Real World Context
Fossils that show evidence of common ancestry, such as:

  • similarity of vertebrate limb bones
  • similarity of early vertebrate embryos
  • similarity of fossil bones to those of contemporary animals (i.e., horse legs)

 

Science/Strand III/Content Standard 4/Middle School/Benchmark 1
Instructional Example

Benchmark Question: How do scientists trace the origin and development of species?

Focus Question: How do fossils show evidence of a relationship between past and present animals?

Students will write a journal entry listing ten things they know about the physical characteristics of dinosaurs. Then students will meet in small groups and use their lists to discuss the following questions:

1. Which modern animals have characteristics that are similar to dinosaurs?

2. What changes in the environment might have caused dinosaurs to change?

Small groups will share their hypotheses with the class. Students then will examine several fossils and hypothesize what modern organisms the fossils resemble. They will discuss the use of fossils as scientific evidence. Then small groups will research one of the following pairs of animals to determine similarities and whether fossil evidence exists to support their common ancestry:

  • sandhill crane / Archaeopteryx
  • horse / Hyracotherium
  • rhinoceros / Triceratops
  • grizzly bear / Tyrannosaurus rex
  • elephant / Wooly Mammoth

Students will present their findings to the class.

Constructing: (SCI.I.1.MS.1), (SCI.I.1.MS.5).

Reflecting: (SCI.II.1.MS.1), (SCI.II.1.MS.3).

 

Science/Strand III/Content Standard 4/Middle School/Benchmark 1
Assessment Example

Students will research a pair of organisms (possible examples are listed below) to determine their similarities and whether fossil evidence exists to support common ancestry. In small groups or individually, students will compile their findings to write and illustrate a children’s story that includes a hypothesis and possible evidence for connecting the two organisms. They will present their stories to a group of elementary students.

Possible examples:

  • sandhill crane / Archaeopteryx
  • horse / Hyracotherium
  • rhinoceros / Triceratops
  • grizzly bear / Tyrannosaurus rex
  • elephant / Wooly Mammoth

(Give students rubric before activity.)

Scoring of Classroom Assessment Example

Content:

I. Gives supporting evidence for possible ancestral connection between life forms.

1

2

3

4

5

Not Yet

 

On the Way

 

Excellent

II. Designs illustrations that clearly show both life forms.

1

2

3

4

5

Not Yet

 

On the Way

 

Excellent

III. Includes comparisons and contrasts of two life forms.

1

2

3

4

5

Not Yet

 

On the Way

 

Excellent

IV. Summarizes research in a clear, concise manner.

1

2

3

4

5

Not Yet

 

On the Way

 

Excellent

Overall presentation:

I. Writing mechanics

1

2

3

4

5

Not Yet

 

On the Way

 

Excellent

II. Neatness

1

2

3

4

5

Not Yet

 

On the Way

 

Excellent

III. Visual appeal

1

2

3

4

5

Not Yet

 

On the Way

 

Excellent

 

Science/Strand III/Content Standard 4/Middle School/Benchmark 1
Resources

Webliography.
http://mtn.merit.edu/mcf/SCI.III.4.MS.1.html

Dinosaurs/Reptiles, Dinosaurs: Those Big Boneheads. Bill Nye Video. Disney Educational (800/295-5010).

Digging into Dinosaurs. RANGER RICK’S NATURE SCOPE SERIES. National Wildlife Federation, 1996.

Mader, Sylvia. Inquiry Into Life with ESP CD ROM and E-Text CD ROM. McGraw Hill, 2000.

Niles, Gregory et al. The Fossil Factory. Addison-Wesley, 1989.

Taylor, Paul. Fossil. Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.