OpenSciEd: Biology 4 Natural Selection & Evolution of Populations 1-Class Unit Kit


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Biology. In Biology 4: Natural Selection & Evolution of Populations, Carolina Certified Version*, students work to answer the Unit Driving Question: "How does urbanization affect nonhuman populations, and how can we minimize harmful effects?"

This unit on natural selection and evolution of populations focuses on the phenomenon of increasing urbanization around the world and the impact of that change on nonhuman populations. Students observe nonhuman populations affected by urbanization in their own community and read about 3 case studies of nonhuman populations that are different in urban and nonurban environments. These initial investigations prompt students to ask what is causing differences they see in these populations. Students create an initial model of how and why nonhuman populations could change because of urbanization and investigate each case study in more detail to uncover the mechanisms for change.

They conduct an investigation of the impact of habitat fragmentation on seed dispersal strategies in hawksbeard plants. Students then investigate how rats in Tokyo could have become resistant to poison, gathering information from a variety of studies to learn how genetic variations affect their physiology and rates of survival. Students also investigate studies of juncos to see if bold behavior is an advantageous trait for living close to people in urban environments. At the end of Lesson Set 1, students synthesize their knowledge to create group models and then a class consensus model explaining how urbanization is a force of change in nonhuman populations—a model that explains evolution by natural selection. Lesson Set 2 focuses on why some nonhuman populations have reduced fitness in urban environments, introducing students to endangered panthers and mountain lions whose populations appear to be harmed by urbanization. Students use a mathematical model to determine how habitat fragmentation impacts fitness and then investigate possible human-engineered solutions to prevent these problems. They develop criteria for how urban areas can grow while maintaining genetically diverse and resilient populations and ecosystems. Finally, students apply their knowledge to evaluate proposed design solutions for Buckeye, Arizona, one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States.

Through these investigations, students:

  • Ask and answer questions about how urbanization may cause changes in nonhuman populations.
  • Develop and revise models for how various selection pressures could cause nonhuman populations to evolve.
  • Analyze data collected in their own investigations or when reading the work of published scientists and apply this evidence to support their explanations.
  • Write and revise explanations for how genetic variations can lead to differential reproductive success and changes in populations.
  • Apply their knowledge of evolution by natural selection to explain why small, fragmented populations can be more vulnerable to change than large populations.
  • Evaluate and discuss how well proposed designs for the urbanization of a real city meet criteria for protecting biodiversity and the needs of all inhabitants of the area.
  • Complete 2 transfer tasks by applying their knowledge to novel phenomena.

This 1-Class Unit Kit comes with basic teacher access to instructional materials on, plus the materials needed for a teacher to teach 1 class of 32 students per day.

Building Toward NGSS Performance Expectations (PEs)

  • 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-LS4-4**: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations.
  • 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.
  • HS-LS4-6: Create or revise a simulation to test a solution to mitigate adverse impacts of human activity on biodiversity.
  • HS-ETS1-3†: Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
**This performance expectation is developed across multiple units.
†This performance expectation is developed across multiple courses.

Focal Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs)

  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Constructing Explanations

Focal Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs)

  • LS4.B: Natural Selection
  • LS4.C: Adaptation
  • LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans
  • ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

Focal Crosscutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect

*All enhancements to materials and instruction for this Carolina Certified Version of the unit are approved by OpenSciEd to preserve the integrity of the storyline and the instructional model.


What’s Included:
  •  Unit Technology Pack (basic digital access to teacher's guide and all instructional resources for the teacher)
  •  Bags, Heavy-Duty, Resealable, Plastic, 1 pt
  •  Beads, Blue Pony
  •  Beads, Light Blue Pony
  •  Beads, Lime Pony
  •  Beads, Orange Pony
  •  Beads, Purple Pony
  •  Beads, Red Pony
  •  Beads, White Pony
  •  Beads, Yellow Pony
  •  Buckeye Area Maps
  •  Container Lids, for 16-oz Plastic Containers
  •  Containers, Plastic, 16 oz
  •  Desk Fan, 6"
  •  Dice, 4-Sided, Black
  •  Feathers, 8 Colors, Pack
  •  Note Pads, Self-Adhesive, 5 x 8", Lined
  •  Note Pads, Self-Adhesive, Yellow, 3 x 3"
  •  Paper Clips, No. 1
  •  Pencils, Assorted Colors, Set
  •  Rulers, Plastic, Metric (12")
  •  Terry Cloth Beach Towel, 30 x 60"
  •  Terry Cloth Washcloths, 12 x 12"
  •  Top-Loading Sheet Protectors
Return Policy:

If for any reason you are not satisfied with this item, it is eligible for a return, exchange, refund, or credit up to 180 days from date of purchase. Restrictions may apply. Returns & Exchanges Policy.