Energy and Matter in Ecosystems

Unit 1

This unit introduces students to the broad fundamental principles governing living things. Students will explore the integral parts of an ecosystem, specifically the linear flow of energy as it moves within and between organisms, and discover the natural, cyclical flow of matter as it moves within components of the biosphere. Throughout the unit, students will also explore how physiological changes in organisms can influence energy flow in an ecosystem. Students will be required to work collaboratively developing and revising a model that can be used to explain the Feeding Frenzy anchoring phenomenon, and also predict seemingly unknown but related phenomena.

Profile of a Graduate Capacities: Analyzing, Product Creation


Unit 2

This unit introduces students to selective pressures that affect populations that are driven by relationships among different organisms and between organisms, and nonliving factors within the biosphere. Students will explore population dynamics influenced by limiting factors such as predator-prey relationships, climate, and availability of natural resources. Students will investigate what factors lead to a balanced, healthy ecosystem and, through a case study, learn about how ecosystems become unbalance and the factors that cause this disruption.  

Profile of a Graduate Capacities: Analyzing, Product Creation

Cellular Transport

Unit 3

This unit introduces students to life at the cellular level with an emphasis on cell structure and function. The purpose of this unit is to help students recognize that interactions within complex levels of organization between organisms learned in previous units originate from complex physiological interactions at the cellular level within a single organism. Students explore the regulatory function of the cell membrane as well as the physical property of solubility. 

Profile of a Graduate Capacities: Analyzing, Design


Unit 4

The final unit brings together several concepts studied during the year. Students will investigate the relationship of DNA and chromosomes in the processes of cell division for growth, repair, and sexual reproduction.  Students will uncover how genes are passed from parent to offspring and apply probability rules to determine the likelihood of passing on certain traits.  As students engage in applying their understanding of genetics and inheritance to evolution, they will uncover how natural selection is driven by primarily by environmental changes and heritable genetic variations. Students analyze the genetic and physical changes in the populations of the ecosystem they explored in Units 1 and 2 as they examine how and why the populations changed following an environmental shift.  In doing so, students will develop and justify scientifically-based explanations for the population shifts.  

Profile of a Graduate Capacities: Analyzing, Product Creation