Weston Middle School

Life Science Course Materials

Weston, Massachusetts
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Lecture/Discussion Notes




Additional Material

Date Due Homework Assignment Concepts/Notes Activities/Handouts

What is life? Is a seed alive? Is a prion alive? Is a virus alive?


Hand out Bacteria to Plants books; collect remaining Cells and Heredity books.

    Characteristics of Life PowerPoint (jm)

Rev. Sheet 1-1 What is Life?

Review Sheet 1-2 Origins of Life(1-3 M&L)

Characteristics of Life- Notetaker (jm)

Definitions- Early Characteristics and Life (jm)

2/24 Read pp. 16-23 What is Life (1-3 M&L) What are the characteristics of living things? Life is G.R.I.M.M. - Growth, Reproduction, Irritability, Metabolism, Movement Design a spaceship activity.
2/25 Review Sheet 1-1 due(1-3 M&L) Bread Mold Redux  
2/26 Read pp. 25-27 Origins of Life; ( 17-2 M&L) Origins of Life- Sci. Am. Video- Snowball Earth or other;

Scientists hypothesize that small chemical units of life formed gradually over millions of years. Early life may have been RNA-based

Discuss origins of life

Show video

2/27 Rev. Sheet 1-2 due(17-2 M&L)

Linnaean taxonomy is a method of classifying living things...

All species are classified in a ranked hierarchy, originally starting with kingdoms although domains have since been added as a rank above the kingdoms. Kingdoms are divided into phyla (singular: phylum) — for animals; the term division, used for plants and fungi, is equivalent to the rank of phylum (and the current International Code of Botanical Nomenclature allows the use of either term). Phyla (or divisions) are divided into classes, and they, in turn, into orders, families, genera (singular: genus), and species (singular: species).

- wikipedia

Quiz on 1-1;1-2;

Intro to Linnean nomenclature



Branching Tree Diagrams Handout (jd)

Dichotomous Shoes Lab ( jd)

Horse fossils Comparison-Worksheet (jm)

Review Sheet 1-3:Classifying Organisms

1-4:The Six Kingdoms(18-1, 18-2, 18-3 M&L)


Review branching tree diagrams: What makes a good sorting characteristic? Linnean system based upon easily observed characteristic(phenotypes).

Biologists describe evolutionary relationships by means of a branching tree diagram known as a cladogram. These can now be confirmed using ribosomal RNA sequences as an ‘evolutionary clock

Dichotomous Keys:

  • List the characteristics you used to sort. Leave 2 blank lines after each.
  • Starting with the first characteristic, list the two options under each.
  • Each option should proceed to the next characteristic.
  • Chain stops with every unique individual.

Dichotomous Key Example (jd)

Brief historical survey of kingdom systems- (use a branching tree to describe)

  • (1700’s)- Plants and animals
  • Late 1800’s- Plants, animals, protists;
  • 1950’s: Fungi made a separate kingdom
  • 1990’s: Archaebacteria made a separate kingdom


Quiz Review(brief)

Creating a classification system: Dichotomous shoes (see pp. 462-463 M&L)

Optional: Video clip on classification (notes)



3/2 Read pp. 28-35 Classifying Organisms( 18-1,18-2 M&L)

The levels of Classification: Kingdom-Phylum-Class-Order-Family-Genus-Species-Variety; examining various animals


King Philip Came Over From Germany- So?


Classification-Introduction-Notes (jd)

The six kingdoms: archaebacteria, eubacteria, protists, fungi, plants, animals

Kingdoms of Life-Table (jd)

Kingdoms of Life-Notes (jm)

Classification Introduction-Notetaker (jm)

Kingdoms of Life Table Worksheet- (jd)

Kingdoms of Life-Notes-Worksheet (jm)

3/3 Rev. Sheet 1-3(A-25): Classifying Organisms due( 18-1, 18-2 M&L)

Modern classification compares DNA mutations; branching tree diagrams

3/4 Read Sec 1-4: The Six Kingdoms( 18-3 M&L)


3/5 Rev. Sheet 1-4 (A-29):The Six Kingdoms(18-3 M&L)

Do-Now: Kingdoms (jm)

Review and Quiz on Definition of Life and  Classification

3/8   Introduction to Viruses: Viruses contain genetic material wrapped in a protein coat. They 'hijack' the cellular machinery to reproduce themselves. Review Sheet 2-1:Viruses;Review Sheet 2-2: Bacteria (19-1, 19-2 M&L)
3/9 Read pp. 48-54: Viruses (19-3 M&L) Retroviruses and the human genome- much of human DNA is inactivated viral DNA. Viruses and gene therapy.  
3/10 Review Sheet 2-1 Viruses(19-3 M&L)

The Microbial Zoo: A Guided tour.

Introduction to bacteria.

Bacteria and Protists- Notes (jm)

Bacteria Introduction-Notes (jd)

Black Death Overhead (jd)

Ring a around the Rosy (jd)

Guns, Germs, and Steel (jd)

Bacteria Wanted Research Project (jm)

Bacterial Growth Lab: Culturing Bacteria

Bacteria for Breakfast-Lab (jm)

3/11 Read pp. 56-65 Bacteria ( 19-1, 19-2 M&L)



Review Sheet 2-2: Bacteria(19-1, 19-2 M&L)

Infectious Disease Report

Quiz on Bacteria and Viruses  
3/15   Evaluate bacterial growth. Extra time: Protists and Algae Rev. Sheet 4-1 The Plant Kingdom(22-1 M&L)


Tree of Life Project

Revised May 2008 by Jonathan Dietz, dietzj@mail.weston.org