Diversity of Life, First Edition

What is life? We usually know it when we see it, but what is it? This course introduces students to the big picture of life on Earth. Students discover that all living things, despite their complexity, share the same basic characteristics. Students learn that all organisms (bacteria, protists, fungi, plants, and animals) are composed of cells, and that a single cell is the fundamental unit of life. Students explore the relationship of organisms to their environment, and recognize life as a temporary condition experienced for various lengths of time by all living things. It is our hope that, in their efforts to answer the question "What is life?" students will develop an appreciation for the awesome diversity of life on Earth and a personal interest in life in all its forms.

Investigation 1: What is Life? prompts students to think about characteristics that are common to all living organisms and develops an operational definition of life that will be refined throughout this course.
Investigation 2: Introduction to the Microscope acquaints students with the microscope as a tool used by scientists to study organisms in detail.
Investigation 3: In Microscopic Life students discover cells and begin to understand their importance as the basic units of life.
Investigation 4: The Cell teaches students to recognize cells as the basic unit of life and to appreciate the diversity of cells that contribute to the diversity of life on Earth.
Investigation 5: In Seeds of Life students recognize that seeds are living organisms in a dormant state. They observe and describe the first developmental stages of a plant.
Investigation 6: In Transpiration students conduct investigations to understand how the vascular system transports water throughout a plant and how stomates on leaves regulate the rate of water flow through a plant.
Investigation 7: In Plant Reproduction students investigate the reproductive systems in flowers to understand the origin of seeds, and to explore plant adaptations for seed dispersal.
Investigation 8: In Snails students observe and analyze snail structures and behaviors in order to set up a secure and supportive habitat in which snails can live.
Investigation 9: Roaches introduces the concept of adaptation by pointing out the structures and behaviors of an insect and relates those adaptations to the roach's natural history and habitat.
Investigation 10: In Kingdoms of Life students explore the Monera (bacteria), Protista (algae), and Fungi kingdoms to understand their roles in the scheme of life.