Earth &

Life History

This unit requires some prior knowledge from 6th grade. Since students came from different elementary schools we will spend a few days reviewing Earth Science. We will start with how the earth has changed over the last 4.6 billion years.

Earth Changes

  • Phet Plate Tectonics. Unfortunately, this wonderful simulation only works on Windows and our chromebooks will not support it. This year we will use Amplify and other source

  • Volcanoes, tsunamis and earthquakes. We will discuss and watch movies about these catastrophes that can be caused by plate tectonics. Students will need to understand how they happen, how they affect earth and the impact it can have on life on earth.

History of Life MS-LS4-1

  • PPT: History of Life on Earth. We will cover catastrophe, fossils, relative dating, absolute dating, continental drift, and Pangaea. There will be a quick relative dating assignment embedded in this PowerPoint.

  • Pangaea Project: Yes, you have learned this before. This time we will look at different fossil evidence.

        • Try this simulation if you want to know what the continents looked like at different times of Earth's History.

  • Geologic Time Line Project: This is a group project with 1, 2 or 3 people in each group. We will go through this project step by step and it is in class. We will be creating a timeline of how life has changed over the history of earth.

  • Major Extinctions Project: The standards focus on 2 major extinctions. We will watch a video (the one in class is a little different and shorter) on evidence that support the theories behind the causes of the two extinctions. We will put this information together on a Google Drawing project. This project will be done at the same time as the Geologic time line project. It is individual but class time will be given.

Natural Selection

Earth Changes so Life Changes.

  • PPT: Discuss Species, extinction, and natural selection.

  • Genetic Variation leads to Natural Selection. We will look at a variety of species that have changed (mutation) and because of that change they are better adapted to their environment. Examples: Pocket mouse, lactose intolerance, black plague, and sickle cell anemia. MS LS 4-4

  • Adaptations Microviewer MS LS 4-4

  • Bird Adaptation: looking at the finches with different adaptations that help them survive in their environment. There will be a match up the beak to the food source, coloring, and game/simulation lab where students will pretend to be different birds with different beaks. Students will then complete a quick simulation online about finches and their "song." MS LS 4-4

  • Squid Dissection (my favorite). Different adaptations that Squid have that allow them to successfully survive in their environment. MS LS 4-4

  • Elephants. Looking at how elephants have changed over time. We will also look at how humans have impacted elephants. MS LS 4-2, MS LS 4-5, MS LS 4-6

  • Homologous Structures. Coloring. MS LS 4-2

  • Embryo Comparison. Looking at embryos of different animals. Microviewer, in class activity and movie to support the standard LS 4-3.

Review & Test

This unit covers little memorization and is based on understanding the concepts from class. Unfortunately there isn't a need for little pop quizzes. There could be short quizzes (tickets out the door) to check understanding throughout the unit. These will not be announced but will check students understanding of concepts covered in class. There will be a large unit test at the end of the unit.

  • Qwizdom review will be done in class to review.

  • Review is in the packet and will be started in class and finished at home.

  • About the test

    • There are around 60 multiple choice questions.

    • Some questions are from notes (and can be studied for) and some questions will be from class activities and rely on listening, participating and understanding concepts covered in labs and class discussions.

      • 6 questions: general: catastrophe, uniformitarianism, extinct, natural selection etc. Vocabulary covered from the powerpoint at the beginning of the unit.

      • 16 questions: Geological Time scale/ Relative Dating

      • 4 - Plate tectonics/ continental drift/ pangaea

      • 12 Natural selection and adaptations standards

      • 14 questions from labs and activities from class

      • 9 - homologous structures and embryo development standards


MS-LS4-1. Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past.

MS-LS4-2. Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.

MS-LS4-3. Analyze displays of pictorial data to compare patterns of similarities in the embryological development across multiple species to identify relationships not evident in the fully formed anatomy.

MS-LS4-4. Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.

MS-LS4-6. Use mathematical representations to support explanations of how natural selection may lead to increases and decreases of specific traits in populations over time.

Not covered in 2019- Phet Bunny Lab

MS-LS2-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.MS-LS2-2. Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems. MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations. MS-LS2-5. Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services *

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.8 Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in a text.

We will review the following 6th Grade standards so that we can build on them throughout this unit.

MS-ESS1-4. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence from rock strata for how the geologic time scale is used to organize Earth's 4.6-billion-year-old history.

MS-ESS2-2. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales.

MS-ESS2-3. Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions.

High School NGSS standards:

HS-LS3-3. Apply concepts of statistics and probability to explain the variation and distribution of expressed traits in a population.

HS-LS4-1. Communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence.

HS-LS4-2. Construct an explanation based on evidence that the process of evolution primarily results from four factors: (1) the potential for a species to increase in number, (2) the heritable genetic variation of individuals in a species due to mutation and sexual reproduction, (3) competition for limited resources, and (4) the proliferation of those organisms that are better able to survive and reproduce in the environment.

HS-LS4-3. Apply concepts of statistics and probability to support explanations that organisms with an advantageous heritable trait tend to increase in proportion to organisms lacking this trait.

HS-LS4-5. Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in: (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species. [