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
High School


Science/Strand III/Content Standard 4/High School
Benchmark 2
Explain how a new species or variety may originate through the evolutionary process of natural selection.

Benchmark Clarification

A new species or variety of an organism may originate through the process of natural selection.

Students will:

  • Describe how changes within the environment select for survival and reproduction of certain individuals
  • Predict how the selection for specific traits might result in the development of a new species
  • Relate natural selection to the development of new populations (e.g., a strain of bacteria becoming resistant)
  • Identify the differences between inherited and non-inherited traits

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


Science/Strand III/Content Standard 4/High School/Benchmark 2
Key Concept
Concept of species; how new species or varieties are established:

  • natural selection
  • inheritable/non-inheritable characteristics
  • species variation


Science/Strand III/Content Standard 4/High School/Benchmark 2
Real World Context
Common contexts:

  • Contemporary examples of natural selection:
    • bacteria resistance to antibiotics
    • insect resistance to pesticides
  • examples of artificial selection:
    • agricultural-selection to increase production
    • selecting desired traits for pets
  • historical examples of naive explanations of evolution such as the Lamarckian explanation of the evolution of the giraffe’s long neck


Science/Strand III/Content Standard 4/High School/Benchmark 2
Instructional Example

Benchmark Question: How do new species or varieties originate through the evolutionary process of natural selection?

Focus Question: How are new populations developed through natural selection?

Small groups of students will grow bacterial colonies on agar plates containing a 0.5% concentration of antiseptic*. Students should transfer the surviving bacteria to agar with increasing concentrations of antiseptic agar**. When the maximum concentration is reached (about 15%), some of the original stock colony (0%) will be transferred directly to another plate with the highest concentration (15%). Growth on the two plates with the highest concentration will be analyzed. Students should develop an explanation for the difference between the two plates (A new population developed through natural selection when the surviving bacteria was transferred from plate to plate of increasing concentration)***. Each student will write a lab report demonstrating that he or she has followed the steps of the scientific method.

* Lysol 

** Only use purchased bacteria that are acceptable for classroom use.

*** Can be done as a demonstration.

Constructing: (SCI.I.1.HS.4), (SCI.I.1.HS.5).

Reflecting: (SCI.II.1.HS.1), (SCI.I.1.HS.5), (SCI.II.1.HS.3), (SCI.II.1.HS.4), (SCI.II.1.HS.6), (SCI.II.1.HS.7).


Science/Strand III/Content Standard 4/High School/Benchmark 2
Assessment Example

The teacher will present the following scenario:

Suppose that an earthquake separates Michigan from its surrounding states, preventing animals from living together. The white-tailed deer population that lives in Michigan and around its once surrounding states can no longer live together and mate.

Each student will write an essay explaining how two different species of deer may evolve through time in Michigan from the common ancestor, the white-tailed deer now that there are two separate populations.

(Give students rubric before activity.)

Scoring Rubric






Correctness of responses

Answers with two correct responses.

Answers with three correct responses.

Answers with four correct responses.

Answers with five correct responses.


Science/Strand III/Content Standard 4/High School/Benchmark 2


Basic Evolution.

Scopes Monkey Trial.