Core Curriculum Content Standards

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Science Standards Learning Progressions

5.3 Life Science All students will understand that life science principles are powerful conceptual tools for making sense of the complexity, diversity, and interconnectedness of life on Earth. Order in natural systems arises in accordance with rules that govern the physical world, and the order of natural systems can be modeled and predicted through the use of mathematics.
A. 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.
Preschool By the end of Grade 2 By the end of Grade 4 By the end of Grade 6 By the end of Grade 8 By the end of Grade 12
Content: Observations and discussions about the natural world form a basis for young learners’ understanding of life science.

5.3.P.A.1 Investigate and compare the basic physical characteristics of plants, humans, and other animals.
Content: Living organisms:
  • Exchange nutrients and water with the environment.

  • Reproduce.

  • Grow and develop in a predictable manner.


5.3.2.A.1 Group living and nonliving things according to the characteristics that they share.
Content: Living organisms:
  • Interact with and cause changes in their environment.

  • Exchange materials (such as gases, nutrients, water, and waste) with the environment.

  • Reproduce.

  • Grow and develop in a predictable manner.


5.3.4.A.1 Develop and use evidence-based criteria to determine if an unfamiliar object is living or nonliving.
Content: Systems of the human body are interrelated and regulate the body’s internal environment.

5.3.6.A.1 Model the interdependence of the human body’s major systems in regulating its internal environment.
Content: All organisms are composed of cell(s). In multicellular organisms, specialized cells perform specialized functions. Tissues, organs, and organ systems are composed of cells and function to serve the needs of cells for food, air, and waste removal.

5.3.8.A.1 Compare the benefits and limitations of existing as a single-celled organism and as a multicellular organism.
Content: Cells are made of complex molecules that consist mostly of a few elements. Each class of molecules has its own building blocks and specific functions.

5.3.12.A.1 Represent and explain the relationship between the structure and function of each class of complex molecules using a variety of models.
Content: Observations and discussions form a basis for young learners’ understanding of the similarities and differences among living and nonliving things.

5.3.P.A.2 Observe similarities and differences in the needs of various living things, and differences between living and nonliving things.
Content: Essential functions required for the well-being of an organism are carried out by specialized structures in plants and animals.

5.3.4.A.2 Compare and contrast structures that have similar functions in various organisms, and explain how those functions may be carried out by structures that have different physical appearances.
Content: Essential functions of plant and animal cells are carried out by organelles.

5.3.6.A.2 Model and explain ways in which organelles work together to meet the cell’s needs.
Content: During the early development of an organism, cells differentiate and multiply to form the many specialized cells, tissues, and organs that compose the final organism. Tissues grow through cell division.

5.3.8.A.2 Relate the structures of cells, tissues, organs, and systems to their functions in supporting life.
Content: Cellular processes are carried out by many different types of molecules, mostly by the group of proteins known as enzymes.

5.3.12.A.2 Demonstrate the properties and functions of enzymes by designing and carrying out an experiment.
Content: Essential functions of the human body are carried out by specialized systems:
  • Digestive

  • Circulatory

  • Respiratory

  • Nervous

  • Skeletal

  • Muscular

  • Reproductive


5.3.4.A.3 Describe the interactions of systems involved in carrying out everyday life activities.
Content: Cellular function is maintained through the regulation of cellular processes in response to internal and external environmental conditions.

5.3.12.A.3 Predict a cell’s response in a given set of environmental conditions.
Content: Cells divide through the process of mitosis, resulting in daughter cells that have the same genetic composition as the original cell.

5.3.12.A.4 Distinguish between the processes of cellular growth (cell division) and development (differentiation).
Content: Cell differentiation is regulated through the expression of different genes during the development of complex multicellular organisms.

5.3.12.A.5 Describe modern applications of the regulation of cell differentiation and analyze the benefits and risks (e.g., stem cells, sex determination).
Content: There is a relationship between the organization of cells into tissues and the organization of tissues into organs. The structures and functions of organs determine their relationships within body systems of an organism.

5.3.12.A.6 Describe how a disease is the result of a malfunctioning system, organ, and cell, and relate this to possible treatment interventions (e.g., diabetes, cystic fibrosis, lactose intolerance).
5.3 Life Science All students will understand that life science principles are powerful conceptual tools for making sense of the complexity, diversity, and interconnectedness of life on Earth. Order in natural systems arises in accordance with rules that govern the physical world, and the order of natural systems can be modeled and predicted through the use of mathematics.
B. 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.
Preschool By the end of Grade 2 By the end of Grade 4 By the end of Grade 6 By the end of Grade 8 By the end of Grade 12
Content: Investigations form a young learners’ understanding of how a habitat provides for an organism’s energy needs.

5.3.P.B.1 Observe and describe how plants and animals obtain food from their environment, such as by observing the interactions between organisms in a natural habitat.
Content: A source of energy is needed for all organisms to stay alive and grow. Both plants and animals need to take in water, and animals need to take in food. Plants need light.

5.3.2.B.1 Describe the requirements for the care of plants and animals related to meeting their energy needs.
Content: Almost all energy (food) and matter can be traced to the Sun.

5.3.4.B.1 Identify sources of energy (food) in a variety of settings (farm, zoo, ocean, forest).
Content: Plants are producers: They use the energy from light to make food (sugar) from carbon dioxide and water. Plants are used as a source of food (energy) for other organisms.

5.3.6.B.1 Describe the sources of the reactants of photosynthesis and trace the pathway to the products.
Content: Food is broken down to provide energy for the work that cells do, and is a source of the molecular building blocks from which needed materials are assembled.

5.3.8.B.1 Relate the energy and nutritional needs of organisms in a variety of life stages and situations, including stages of development and periods of maintenance.
Content: As matter cycles and energy flows through different levels of organization within living systems (cells, organs, organisms, communities), and between living systems and the physical environment, chemical elements are recombined into different products.

5.3.12.B.1 Cite evidence that the transfer and transformation of matter and energy links organisms to one another and to their physical setting.
Content: Animals have various ways of obtaining food and water. Nearly all animals drink water or eat foods that contain water.

5.3.2.B.2 Compare how different animals obtain food and water.
Content: All animals, including humans, are consumers that meet their energy needs by eating other organisms or their products.

5.3.6.B.2 Illustrate the flow of energy (food) through a community.
Content: All animals, including humans, are consumers that meet their energy needs by eating other organisms or their products.

5.3.8.B.2 Analyze the components of a consumer’s diet and trace them back to plants and plant products.
Content: Each recombination of matter and energy results in storage and dissipation of energy into the environment as heat.

5.3.12.B.2 Use mathematical formulas to justify the concept of an efficient diet.
Content: Most plants have roots to get water and leaves to gather sunlight.

5.3.2.B.3 Explain that most plants get water from soil through their roots and gather light through their leaves.
Content: Continual input of energy from sunlight keeps matter and energy flowing through ecosystems.

5.3.12.B.3 Predict what would happen to an ecosystem if an energy source was removed.
Content: Plants have the capability to take energy from light to form sugar molecules containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

5.3.12.B.4 Explain how environmental factors (such as temperature, light intensity, and the amount of water available) can affect photosynthesis as an energy storing process.
Content: In both plant and animal cells, sugar is a source of energy and can be used to make other carbon-containing (organic) molecules.

5.3.12.B.5 Investigate and describe the complementary relationship (cycling of matter and flow of energy) between photosynthesis and cellular respiration.
Content: All organisms must break the high-energy chemical bonds in food molecules during cellular respiration to obtain the energy needed for life processes.

5.3.12.B.6 Explain how the process of cellular respiration is similar to the burning of fossil fuels.
5.3 Life Science All students will understand that life science principles are powerful conceptual tools for making sense of the complexity, diversity, and interconnectedness of life on Earth. Order in natural systems arises in accordance with rules that govern the physical world, and the order of natural systems can be modeled and predicted through the use of mathematics.
C. Interdependence: All animals and most plants depend on both other organisms and their environment to meet their basic needs.
Preschool By the end of Grade 2 By the end of Grade 4 By the end of Grade 6 By the end of Grade 8 By the end of Grade 12
Content: Investigations and observations of the interactions between plants and animals form a basis for young learners’ understanding of interdependence in life science.

5.3.P.C.1 Observe and describe how natural habitats provide for the basic needs of plants and animals with respect to shelter, food, water, air, and light (e.g., dig outside in the soil to investigate the kinds of animal life that live in and around the ground).
Content: Organisms interact and are interdependent in various ways; for example, they provide food and shelter to one another.

5.3.2.C.1 Describe the ways in which organisms interact with each other and their habitats in order to meet basic needs.
Content: Organisms can only survive in environments in which their needs are met. Within ecosystems, organisms interact with and are dependent on their physical and living environment.

5.3.4.C.1 Predict the biotic and abiotic characteristics of an unfamiliar organism’s habitat.
Content: Various human activities have changed the capacity of the environment to support some life forms.

5.3.6.C.1 Explain the impact of meeting human needs and wants on local and global environments.
Content: Symbiotic interactions among organisms of different species can be classified as:
  • Producer/consumer

  • Predator/prey

  • Parasite/host

  • Scavenger/prey

  • Decomposer/prey


5.3.8.C.1 Model the effect of positive and negative changes in population size on a symbiotic pairing.
Content: Biological communities in ecosystems are based on stable interrelationships and interdependence of organisms.

5.3.12.C.1 Analyze the interrelationships and interdependencies among different organisms, and explain how these relationships contribute to the stability of the ecosystem.
Content: A habitat supports the growth of many different plants and animals by meeting their basic needs of food, water, and shelter.

5.3.2.C.2 Identify the characteristics of a habitat that enable the habitat to support the growth of many different plants and animals.
Content: Some changes in ecosystems occur slowly, while others occur rapidly. Changes can affect life forms, including humans.

5.3.4.C.2 Explain the consequences of rapid ecosystem change (e.g., flooding, wind storms, snowfall, volcanic eruptions), and compare them to consequences of gradual ecosystem change (e.g., gradual increase or decrease in daily temperatures, change in yearly rainfall).
Content: The number of organisms and populations an ecosystem can support depends on the biotic resources available and on abiotic factors, such as quantities of light and water, range of temperatures, and soil composition.

5.3.6.C.2 Predict the impact that altering biotic and abiotic factors has on an ecosystem.
Content: Stability in an ecosystem can be disrupted by natural or human interactions.

5.3.12.C.2 Model how natural and human-made changes in the environment will affect individual organisms and the dynamics of populations.
Content: Humans can change natural habitats in ways that can be helpful or harmful for the plants and animals that live there.

5.3.2.C.3 Communicate ways that humans protect habitats and/or improve conditions for the growth of the plants and animals that live there, or ways that humans might harm habitats.
Content: All organisms cause changes in the ecosystem in which they live. If this change reduces another organism’s access to resources, that organism may move to another location or die.

5.3.6.C.3 Describe how one population of organisms may affect other plants and/or animals in an ecosystem.
5.3 Life Science All students will understand that life science principles are powerful conceptual tools for making sense of the complexity, diversity, and interconnectedness of life on Earth. Order in natural systems arises in accordance with rules that govern the physical world, and the order of natural systems can be modeled and predicted through the use of mathematics.
D. 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.
Preschool By the end of Grade 2 By the end of Grade 4 By the end of Grade 6 By the end of Grade 8 By the end of Grade 12
Content: Observations of developmental changes in a plant or animal over time form a basis for young learners’ understanding of heredity and reproduction.

5.3.P.D.1 Observe and record change over time and cycles of change that affect living things (e.g., use baby photographs to discuss human change and growth, observe and photograph tree growth and leaf changes throughout the year, monitor the life cycle of a plant).
Content: Plants and animals often resemble their parents.

5.3.2.D.1 Record the observable characteristics of plants and animals to determine the similarities and differences between parents and their offspring.
Content: Plants and animals have life cycles (they begin life, develop into adults, reproduce, and eventually die). The characteristics of each stage of life vary by species.

5.3.4.D.1 Compare the physical characteristics of the different stages of the life cycle of an individual organism, and compare the characteristics of life stages among species.
Content: Reproduction is essential to the continuation of every species.

5.3.6.D.1 Predict the long-term effect of interference with normal patterns of reproduction.
Content: Some organisms reproduce asexually. In these organisms, all genetic information comes from a single parent. Some organisms reproduce sexually, through which half of the genetic information comes from each parent.

5.3.8.D.1 Defend the principle that, through reproduction, genetic traits are passed from one generation to the next, using evidence collected from observations of inherited traits.
Content: Genes are segments of DNA molecules located in the chromosome of each cell. DNA molecules contain information that determines a sequence of amino acids, which result in specific proteins.

5.3.12.D.1 Explain the value and potential applications of genome projects.
Content: Organisms have predictable characteristics at different stages of development.

5.3.2.D.2 Determine the characteristic changes that occur during the life cycle of plants and animals by examining a variety of species, and distinguish between growth and development.
Content: Variations exist among organisms of the same generation (e.g., siblings) and of different generations (e.g., parent to offspring).

5.3.6.D.2 Explain how knowledge of inherited variations within and between generations is applied to farming and animal breeding.
Content: The unique combination of genetic material from each parent in sexually reproducing organisms results in the potential for variation.

5.3.8.D.2 Explain the source of variation among siblings.
Content: Inserting, deleting, or substituting DNA segments can alter the genetic code. An altered gene may be passed on to every cell that develops from it. The resulting features may help, harm, or have little or no effect on the offspring’s success in its environment.

5.3.12.D.2 Predict the potential impact on an organism (no impact, significant impact) given a change in a specific DNA code, and provide specific real world examples of conditions caused by mutations.
Content: Traits such as eye color in human beings or fruit/flower color in plants are inherited.

5.3.6.D.3 Distinguish between inherited and acquired traits/characteristics.
Content: Characteristics of organisms are influenced by heredity and/or their environment.

5.3.8.D.3 Describe the environmental conditions or factors that may lead to a change in a cell’s genetic information or to an organism’s development, and how these changes are passed on.
Content: Sorting and recombination of genes in sexual reproduction result in a great variety of possible gene combinations in the offspring of any two parents.

5.3.12.D.3 Demonstrate through modeling how the sorting and recombination of genes during sexual reproduction has an effect on variation in offspring (meiosis, fertilization).
5.3 Life Science All students will understand that life science principles are powerful conceptual tools for making sense of the complexity, diversity, and interconnectedness of life on Earth. Order in natural systems arises in accordance with rules that govern the physical world, and the order of natural systems can be modeled and predicted through the use of mathematics.
E. 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.
By the end of Grade 2 By the end of Grade 4 By the end of Grade 6 By the end of Grade 8 By the end of Grade 12
Content: Variations exist within a group of the same kind of organism.

5.3.2.E.1 Describe similarities and differences in observable traits between parents and offspring.
Content: Individuals of the same species may differ in their characteristics, and sometimes these differences give individuals an advantage in surviving and reproducing in different environments.

5.3.4.E.1 Model an adaptation to a species that would increase its chances of survival, should the environment become wetter, dryer, warmer, or colder over time.
Content: Changes in environmental conditions can affect the survival of individual organisms and entire species.

5.3.6.E.1 Describe the impact on the survival of species during specific times in geologic history when environmental conditions changed.
Content: Individual organisms with certain traits are more likely than others to survive and have offspring in particular environments. The advantages or disadvantages of specific characteristics can change when the environment in which they exist changes. Extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and the characteristics of a species are insufficient to allow survival.

5.3.8.E.1 Organize and present evidence to show how the extinction of a species is related to an inability to adapt to changing environmental conditions using quantitative and qualitative data.
Content: New traits may result from new combinations of existing genes or from mutations of genes in reproductive cells within a population.

5.3.12.E.1 Account for the appearance of a novel trait that arose in a given population.
Content: Plants and animals have features that help them survive in different environments.

5.3.2.E.2 Describe how similar structures found in different organisms (e.g., eyes, ears, mouths) have similar functions and enable those organisms to survive in different environments.
Content: In any ecosystem, some populations of organisms thrive and grow, some decline, and others do not survive at all.

5.3.4.E.2 Evaluate similar populations in an ecosystem with regard to their ability to thrive and grow.
Content: Anatomical evidence supports evolution and provides additional detail about the sequence of branching of various lines of descent.

5.3.8.E.2 Compare the anatomical structures of a living species with fossil records to derive a line of descent.
Content: Molecular evidence (e.g., DNA, protein structures, etc.) substantiates the anatomical evidence for evolution and provides additional detail about the sequence in which various lines of descent branched.

5.3.12.E.2 Estimate how closely related species are, based on scientific evidence (e.g., anatomical similarities, similarities of DNA base and/or amino acid sequence).
Content: The principles of evolution (including natural selection and common descent) provide a scientific explanation for the history of life on Earth as evidenced in the fossil record and in the similarities that exist within the diversity of existing organisms.

5.3.12.E.3 Provide a scientific explanation for the history of life on Earth using scientific evidence (e.g., fossil record, DNA, protein structures, etc.).
Content: Evolution occurs as a result of a combination of the following factors:
  • Ability of a species to reproduce

  • Genetic variability of offspring due to mutation and recombination of genes

  • Finite supply of the resources required for life

  • Natural selection, due to environmental pressure, of those organisms better able to survive and leave offspring


5.3.12.E.4 Account for the evolution of a species by citing specific evidence of biological mechanisms.