Course Description:

This course introduces students to the study of the life sciences. The ultimate goal is to produce students who are more scientifically literate and environmentally aware; therefore, the curriculum addresses attitudes, processes, knowledge science, technology, society, the environment, and careers. Topics covered include the nature of science, the structure and function of the cell, chemistry of living organisms, genetics, nucleic acid formation and function, taxonomy, a study of the characteristics of the six kingdoms of organisms, origin and diversity of life, and ecological relationships. Various laboratory investigations and other activities strengthen the mastery of topics covered.


Course Objectives:

  • Understanding Organization and Development: Living organisms are composed of cellular units (structures) that carry out functions required for life. Cellular units are composed of molecules, which also carry out biological functions.
  • Understanding Matter and Energy Transformations: Food is required for energy and building cellular materials. Organisms in an ecosystem have different ways of obtaining food, and some organisms obtain their food directly from other organisms. All animals and most plants depend on both other organisms and their environment to meet their basic needs.
  • Understanding Heredity and Reproduction: Organisms reproduce, develop, and have predictable life cycles. Organisms contain genetic information that influences their traits, and they pass this on to their offspring during reproduction.
  • Understanding Evolution and Diversity: Sometimes, differences between organisms of the same kind provide advantages for surviving and reproducing in different environments. These selective differences may lead to dramatic changes in characteristics of organisms in a population over extremely long periods of time.
  • Understanding Science Practices:
    • Understand Scientific Explanations: Students understand core concepts and principles of science and use measurement and observation tools to assist in categorizing, representing, and interpreting the natural and designed world.
    • Generate Scientific Evidence Through Active Investigations: Students master the conceptual, mathematical, physical, and computational tools that need to be applied when constructing and evaluating claims.
    •  Reflect on Scientific Knowledge: Scientific knowledge builds on itself over time.
    • Participate Productively in Science: The growth of scientific knowledge involves critique and communication, which are social practices that are governed by a core set of values and norms.


Attendance and participation: 15%

Assignments and homework: 25%

  • Nightly reading will be given as homework.
  • Periodic written homework will be given as a review of material covered in class.

Tests and quizzes: 30%

  • Quizzes will be given half way through each unit.
  • Tests will be given at the end of each unit.
  • Labs will be done at least once per unit, and lab reports will count as quiz grades.

Midterm or final: 30%


Scope and Sequence:

The Nature of Life

  • The Science of Biology
    • What is science? How do Scientists work?
    •  Tools and Procedures
    • The Chemistry of Life
      • The nature of matter
      • The properties of water
      • Carbon compounds
      • Chemical reactions and enzymes



  • Cell Structure and Function
    • Cell Theory and structure of a cell
    • Plasma membrane and diffusion and osmosis
    • Prokaryotic vs. Eukaryotic
    • Photosynthesis
      • Energy and life
      • Photosynthesis overview and its chemical reactions
      • Cellular Respiration
        • Chemical Pathways
        • Krebs Cycle and Electron Transport
        • Cell Growth and Division and Regulating the Cell Cycle



  • Introduction to genetics
    • Gregor Mendel
    • Probability and Punnett Squares
    • Mendelian Genetics
    • Meiosis
    • Gene linkage and maps
    • DNA and RNA
    • Genetic engineering
    • The human genome
      • Human heredity
      • Human chromosomes
      • Human molecular genetics



  • Darwin’s Theory of Evolution
  • Evolution of populations
  • Classifications


Microorganisms and Fungi

  • Bacteria and viruses
  • Protists
  • Fungi



  • Diversity
  • Roots, stems and leaves
  • Reproduction
  • Adaptation



  • Sponges and Cnidarians
  • Worms and mollusks
  • Arthropods and echinoderms
  • Comparing invertebrates



  • Non-vertebrate chordates, fish, and amphibians
  • Reptiles and birds
  • Mammals
  • Comparing chordates
  • Animal behavior


The Human Body

  • Nervous system
  • Skeletal, muscular, and integumentary systems
  • Circulatory and respiratory systems
  • Digestive and excretory systems
  • Endocrine and reproductive systems
  • The immune system and disease