Key Concepts in Biology

The Key Concepts in Biology collection provides quick and easy access to high-quality high school biology resources. These resources have been selected by trusted educators to correlate with the BSCS Biology: A Human Approach Curriculum. This curriculum highlights nine key concepts in six units of study: Evolution, Homeostasis, Energy, Matter, and Organization, Reproduction and Inheritance in Living Systems, Growth Development, and Differentiation, and Ecology.

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  • Key Concepts in Biology
Abiotic and Biotic Factors
Rating

This two-day lesson helps students understand abiotic and biotic factors. Once the concept has been grasped, they can trace the interactions of these factors within a system.

Subject:
Life Science
Ecology
Forestry and Agriculture
Geoscience
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
NSDL Staff
Provider Set:
Key Concepts in Biology
Author:
Richmond, Mary Janice
Date Added:
10/06/1999
Acids in Proteins
Rating

This lesson describes how amino acids build proteins in a person's body. Amino acids are the chemical building blocks for the structure of an organism. A link to a quiz is provided at the end of the lesson to check comprehension.

Subject:
Life Science
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Provider:
NSDL Staff
Provider Set:
Key Concepts in Biology
Date Added:
06/19/2012
Adaptations That Help Gray Whales Survive
Rating

Animals are faced with a constantly changing environment which they must adapt to. This lesson looks at gray whales and the specific adaptations these animals have made in order to develop crucial abilities such as keeping warm in icy water, seeing underwater and knowing when it's time to migrate. Students can click on four different areas: the whale's body, head, flippers and tail, and learn how each body part helps gray whales to thrive in their environment.

Subject:
Life Science
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
NSDL Staff
Provider Set:
Key Concepts in Biology
Date Added:
11/04/2011
BioEd Online: Homeostasis
Conditions of Use:
Read the Fine Print
Rating

This presentation from Baylor College of Medicine's BioEd Online website provides a great introduction to the topic of homeostasis. Students will watch a presentation from Wade Haaland and view the accompanying slides. The entire program's running time is 36:19, and students may skip around the lecture by choosing from the slides on the right hand side of the page. In addition to covering the basics of homeostasis, this presentation goes into the necessary components of a homeostatic system, disruption of homeostasis and more. Flash is required to view the presentation.

Subject:
Life Science
Material Type:
Lecture Notes
Provider:
NSDL Staff
Provider Set:
Key Concepts in Biology
Author:
Haaland, Wade
Date Added:
03/04/2009
Carrying Capacity
Conditions of Use:
Read the Fine Print
Rating

This lesson helps students understand the notion of carrying capacity as it relates to ecosystems by considering an image of a bucket filled with water, and then filled with an "ecosystem." Students are asked to consider the factors on which carrying capacity is determined, and that a ecosystem's carrying capacity can change when certain variables are also changed.

Subject:
Life Science
Ecology
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
NSDL Staff
Provider Set:
Key Concepts in Biology
Date Added:
11/04/2003
Carrying Capacity
Rating

This one-day activity challenges students to understand the ecological concept of carrying capacity through the physically-active process of role playing. Upon completion, students will be able to formulate and test hypotheses related to ecosystems and carrying capacity as well as describe the significance of carrying capacity.

Subject:
Life Science
Ecology
Forestry and Agriculture
Geoscience
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
NSDL Staff
Provider Set:
Key Concepts in Biology
Date Added:
11/04/1992
Cell Differentiation
Rating

In this video segment from The Secret of Life, a fertilized egg cell progresses from its earliest stages through cell differentiation and ultimately the development of an embryo, with simple but identifiable body parts including a spinal cord, a heart, and eyes. The video is accompanied by a background essay, discussion questions, and standards alignment.

Subject:
Life Science
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Provider:
NSDL Staff
Provider Set:
Key Concepts in Biology
Date Added:
09/26/2003
Cells and Homeostasis
Rating

This presentation from Bruce Coulter covers the basics of how cells contribute to the process of homeostasis. Sixteen slides are included and cover the transport of materials into and out of the cell, the process of homeostasis, what tissues are, plasma membranes, the fluid mosaic model, membrane proteins, cholesterol molecules, and passive and active transport. The slides also include a number of links to useful animations depicting these processes. A transcript is provided, and Flash is required to view the slides.

Subject:
Life Science
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
NSDL Staff
Provider Set:
Key Concepts in Biology
Author:
Coulter, Bruce
Date Added:
09/16/2010
Classification Fun
Rating

Taxonomic information shows the evolutionary relationships between organisms. In this lesson plan, students will classify organisms by kingdom and apply their own understanding of classification to identify organisms. The students should already have an understanding of the basics of the five kindoms and the seven categories of classification. The document includes a pre-test on the topic to gauge student understanding and two classroom activities. The activity is intended for sixth grade students, and should take three to four class periods to complete.

Subject:
Life Science
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Assessment
Lesson Plan
Provider:
NSDL Staff
Provider Set:
Key Concepts in Biology
Author:
Shubinski, Carol
Date Added:
06/11/2012
The Diversity of Animals
Conditions of Use:
Read the Fine Print
Rating

This presentation from Hippocampus introduces the concept of biodiversity via a series of narrated animations. The material is broken down into five sections: Animal Fundamentals, Body Plans, Protostomes and Deuterostomes and a conclusion. Students will learn both how species are different from one another and the common bonds all living things share. Students may choose to skip between sections, or explore other related concepts on the biology portion of the Hippocampus site.

Subject:
Life Science
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
NSDL Staff
Provider Set:
Key Concepts in Biology
Date Added:
06/11/2012
Energy Cycle in Living Things
Rating

This diagram shows how energy from the sun cycles through plants and animals. Plants create sugars through photosynthesis which animals can then use for energy. ATP, glucose, and the mitochondria are also explained. Many key terms are hyperlinked to provide more detailed definitions.

Subject:
Life Science
Material Type:
Diagram/Illustration
Lesson Plan
Provider:
NSDL Staff
Provider Set:
Key Concepts in Biology
Date Added:
11/04/2012
Energy and Order in Biological Systems
Rating

This lesson explains how energy is used to keep the structure of an organism maintained. Otherwise, systems naturally progress from order to disorder according to the second law of thermodynamics. Key terms are hyperlinked to provide more detailed explanations.

Subject:
Life Science
Material Type:
Diagram/Illustration
Lesson Plan
Provider:
NSDL Staff
Provider Set:
Key Concepts in Biology
Date Added:
06/19/2012
Evolution 101
Conditions of Use:
Read the Fine Print
Rating

What is evolution and how does it work? Evolution 101 provides the nuts-and-bolts on the patterns and mechanisms of evolution. You can explore the following sections: An Introduction to Evolution (evolution briefly defined and explained); The History of Life: looking at the patterns (how does evolution lead to the tree of life?); Mechanisms - The Processes of Evolution (how does evolution work?); Microevolution (how does evolution work on a small scale?); Speciation (what are species anyway, and how do new ones evolve?); Macroevolution (how does evolution work on a grand scale?); and The Big Issues (what are some of the big questions that evolutionary biologists are trying to answer?)

Subject:
Life Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Reading
Student Guide
Provider:
National Center For Science Education
NSDL Staff
University of California Museum of Paleontology
Provider Set:
Key Concepts in Biology
Understanding Evolution
Date Added:
11/04/2004
Excretory System Activity
Conditions of Use:
Read the Fine Print
Rating

This activity from Darcy Hartley-Pinard will help elementary school teachers demonstrate the structures and process of the excretory system. The class will use a diagram of a human body and everyday items including straws, uncooked spaghetti, yarn and kidney beans to recreate the veins, arteries, kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. This activity is useful for younger students to visualize and connect with the processes that take place in their own bodies.

Subject:
Life Science
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
NSDL Staff
Provider Set:
Key Concepts in Biology
Author:
Hartley-Pinard, Darcy
Date Added:
06/12/2012
Experiencing Natural Selection: Will You Survive?
Rating

This video from the Teaching Channel demonstrates the concept of natural selection. The engaging classroom activity, led by instructor Ceri Evans, addresses survival and natural selection and relates these ideas to the larger concept of evolution. The video may be shown to students to demonstrate these concepts, or may be used as the basis for a similar classroom activity. Running time for the video is 27:29.

Subject:
Life Science
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Simulation
Provider:
NSDL Staff
Provider Set:
Key Concepts in Biology
Date Added:
11/04/2011
Food Chains and Food Webs
Rating

This lesson explains how energy travels through an ecosystem. This flow can be diagrammed in food chains and food webs as shown in the lesson's illustrations. Key terms are hyperlinked so students can easily view definitions of new concepts.

Subject:
Life Science
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Diagram/Illustration
Lesson Plan
Provider:
NSDL Staff
Provider Set:
Key Concepts in Biology
Date Added:
06/14/2012
Generations of Traits
Conditions of Use:
Read the Fine Print
Rating

In this hands-on activity, learners track and record the passage of colored "pompom traits" through three generations of gingerbread people. In doing so, learners discover that traits are passed from parents to offspring and that siblings may or may not receive the same traits from their parents. This guide includes activity sheets in English and Spanish.

Subject:
Education
Life Science
Mathematics
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Simulation
Provider:
Genetic Science Learning Center
NSDL Staff
Science and Math Informal Learning Educators (SMILE)
Provider Set:
Teach.Genetics
Key Concepts in Biology
SMILE Pathway: Science and Math Activities in One Search
Author:
April Mitchell
Harmony Starr
Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Genetic Services Branch and the March of Dimes
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Precollege Science Education Initiative for Biomedical Research Institutions Award
Molly Malone
University of Utah
Date Added:
11/04/2006
Have Your DNA and Eat It Too
Conditions of Use:
Read the Fine Print
Rating

In this activity, learners build edible models of DNA, while learning basic DNA structure and the rules of base pairing. Learners construct the models out of licorice and colored marshmallows and create labels for the base pairs and backbone. This is an excellent activity to use at the end of a unit on DNA.

Subject:
Life Science
Chemistry
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Data Set
Lesson Plan
Simulation
Provider:
Genetic Science Learning Center
NSDL Staff
Science and Math Informal Learning Educators (SMILE)
Provider Set:
Teach.Genetics
Key Concepts in Biology
SMILE Pathway: Science and Math Activities in One Search
Author:
Andee Bouwhuis
April Mitchell
Harmony Starr
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Precollege Science Education Initiative for Biomedical Research Institutions Award
Louisa Stark
Melvin Limson
Molly Malone
University of Utah
Date Added:
11/04/2004
Homeostasis And Transport
Rating

This webpage covers the basics of homeostasis and transport of substances across cell membranes. Students will learn the role cell membranes have in the process of homeostasis and how diffusion and osmosis work. Each subsection of the webpage includes educational graphics to accompany the text.

Subject:
Life Science
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
NSDL Staff
Provider Set:
Key Concepts in Biology
Date Added:
06/18/2012