Draft: June 2009

Unit Files

Structures of Life Unit Overview


How do living things use structures and characteristics to help them survive?
How does the environment impact living organisms?
How do we, as scientists, learn about organisms?


Students will begin to understand and appreciate that . . .

•Each plant and animal has different structures that serve different functions in growth, survival, and reproduction.
•Plants and animals have life cycles. The details of this cycle are different for different organisms.
•Plants and animals closely resemble their parents, and many characteristics of an organism are inherited from the parents.

•Organisms have basic needs and can survive only in environments in which their needs can be met.
•We ask and answer questions
•We plan and conduct investigations
•We use tools to gather data
•We use data to construct reasonable explanations
•We communicate and explain
•We invent new ways of doing things and solve problems
•We use technology to help our understanding
• People have always had problems and invented tools and techniques to solve problems.


Students will be able to . . .

  • Ask questions about living things and the environments, and communicate about the discoveries
  • Plan and conduct an investigation
  • Use tools to gather data
  • Describe, and compare structures and behaviors of living organisms
  • Repeat observations and collected data to improve accuracy
  • Maintain living organisms (both plant and animal)
  • Collect, organize, and analyze data to build explanations / develop a logical conclusion
  • Use numerical data in describing and comparing objects, events, and measurements
  • Predict the outcome of a simple investigation and compare the result with the prediction
  • Describe and sort seeds in terms of properties
  • Estimate the number of seeds
  • Describe changes over time


Students will know . . .

• Different kinds of fruits have different
kinds and numbers of seeds.
• Seeds have a variety of properties.
• Seeds undergo changes in the presence
of water.
• A seed is an organism, a living thing.
• A seed contains the embryo plant and
stores food and water.
• The life cycle is the process of a seed
growing into a mature plant, which in turn
produces seeds.
• The fruit of the plant develops from the
• Crayfish have observable structures
such as legs, pincers, antennae, eyes,
swimmerets, tail, and mouth parts.
• Land snails have a coiled shell, a large
foot on which they glide, and a body with
a variety of structures.
Developing Vocabulary: Cotyledon, Dormant, Embryo, Fruit
Seed, Seed coat, Flower, Germination, Leaf, Life cycle
Organism, Root, Seedling, Stem, Growth, Antennae, Behavior, Bristles, Carapace, Crustaceans, Pincers, Structures, Swimmerets, Estivate, Function...
• Plants need water, light, and nutrients to

• Crayfish have certain requirements for
life, including clean, cool water; food;
and shelter.

• Some animals claim a territory that they
protect from other animals.
Developing Vocabulary: Mold, Hydroponics, Nutrient, Elodea, Habitat, Territory, Distilled, Protein...
• Science and technology have been practiced by people for a long time.

Developing Vocabulary: Estimate, Predict, Investigate, Data, Record, Explain, Draw, Illustrate, Property...
Along with on-going student observations and anecdotal notes, the following assessments can be used to form instruction and provide evidence of student understanding:
FOSS Student Sheets, FOSS Response Sheets, Benchmark Assessments, End of Module FOSS Assessment, Student Inquiry Notebook