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From Cells To Organisms | NGSS

From Cells To Organisms | NGSS

~25-30 40 to 50 minute class periods

How should we prevent the spread of an infectious disease?
Students investigate how scientists first learned about cells and how this discovery led to new understandings of how infectious diseases spread. They gather evidence about the structures and functions of cells, develop models of cells, and explain how cells in animals and plants get the matter and energy they need to survive and grow.

PE Assessment Example: Based on what you have learned in the “Cells Alive!” activity and this activity, draw a diagram (or create another type of model) to show what happens to the food you eat. Your model should show the movement of matter and the release of energy stored in food.

From Cells to Organisms is part of Issues and Science three year middle school program, designed by SEPUP at the Lawrence Hall of Science. This five to six week unit anchors the lessons around the the socio-science issue: How should we prevent the spread of an infectious disease? Investigative phenomena within the 15 activities connect back to the issue and storyline. This unit builds towards and assesses PEs LS1-1, LS1-2, LS1-6, LS1-7.


Content in From Cells To Organisms | NGSS is organized into 15 activities, as follows:

Activity Title Activity Type Activity Overview
1. Disease Outbreak Investigation Students model the spread of an infectious disease by simulating participation in various activities that could expose them to infectious agents. They use a model disease indicator to find out if they were infected. Based on the results, the class discusses how infectious diseases are spread, laying a foundation for further analysis of the cause and transmission of the disease.
2. An Invisible Organism View and Reflect Students watch a segment of the video, A Science Odyssey: “Matters of Life and Death,” which focuses on the bubonic plague epidemic in San Francisco in the early 1900s. This story introduces the role of microbes in spreading infectious diseases and the cellular nature of living organisms.
3. Evidence of Microscopic Organisms Laboratory Students learn how to use a microscope and how to draw their observations. They use their observations to gather evidence that there are living organisms that cannot be seen with just the human eye. Their observations of these singlecelled organisms will be used to develop the idea that all living things are made of cells.
4. The History of Cell Theory Reading Students read about the history of the scientific discoveries leading to cell theory. Students learn that individual cells are the building blocks that make up multicellular bodies. They identify the contributions of scientists to both science and technology.
5. Cells Alive! Laboratory Students explore the idea that cells are alive and perform life functions (e.g., respiration). Students use yeast, a single-celled organism, to investigate the ability of cells to respire.
6. Parts of a Cell Reading A reading elaborates on the basic structures common to all cells. The roles of the cell membrane, cytoplasm, and nucleus are emphasized. Students read about how the cell structures of the various microbes examined in the “Evidence of Microscopic Organisms” activity are used to classify these organisms.
7. Investigating the Cell Membrane Investigation Students investigate the function of the cell membrane by evaluating the ability of particles to pass through the plastic membrane of a sandwich bag. They will use the reaction between starch and Lugol’s solution as evidence of the movement of some particles across the cell membrane. The class discusses how cell permeability relates to cell function.
8. Modeling Cell Structure and Function Modeling Students use an interactive computer animation to review what they have learned about the structure and function of cells and to compare animal and plant cells. Students then construct, present, and are assessed on a physical model of a plant or animal cell.
9. Observing Multicellular Organisms Laboratory Students view prepared slides of multicellular organisms and prepare a slide of onion tissue. They compare the cells of multicellular organisms to the unicellular organisms they observed in the “Evidence of Microscopic Organisms” activity. They will use their observations as the basis of understanding cells, tissues, and other levels of multicellular organization in the next activity.
10. Cells, Tissues, and Organs Reading Students further investigate levels of biological organization. A short reading provides additional information on levels of organization in multicellular organisms.
11. Energy and Matter in Cells Modeling Students use physical models to explore the breakdown of food during digestion and the use of the resulting subunits as building blocks for human proteins or for generating usable energy. They then create drawn models to represent the use of food as a source for matter and energy.
12. The Cells of Plants Laboratory Students investigate the function of the cell membrane by evaluating the ability of particles to pass through the plastic membrane of a sandwich bag. They will use the reaction between starch and Lugol’s solution as evidence of the movement of some particles across the cell membrane. The class discusses how cell permeability relates to cell function.
13. A Plant's Source of Energy Laboratory Students collect evidence for photosynthesis by examining the aquatic plant Elodea. They first perform an investigation to observe the uptake of carbon dioxide by the plant as one indicator that photosynthesis is taking place. Students then design an experiment to investigate the role of light in photosynthesis.
14. Fighting Disease View and Reflect The discovery of the first antibiotic and the problems encountered in testing and producing this “miracle drug” are investigated. Students view a video segment containing historic footage and photographs that help explain how infectious diseases first came to be treated.
15. Disease Detectives Investigation Students assume the role of epidemiologists as they read information about patients. They investigate microbes that might be the infectious agents and hypothesize which microbe is causing the disease. As new evidence comes to light, they evaluate their hypotheses.

Lab-Aids® provides several useful tools to guide you and your students through the From Cells to Organisms unit:

From Cells To Organisms | NGSS

Student Book

The Student Book guides students in exploring a socio-science issue and connected phemonena through a series of varied activity types. Activity types use one of twelve different instructional strategies to apply Science and Engineering Practices to specific Disciplinary Core Ideas and Cross Cutting Concepts.

SEPUP's integrated literacy strategies help students process new science content, develop their analytical skills, make connections between related concepts, and express their knowledge orally and in writing. The built-in assessment system helps teachers identify students' strengths and weaknesses from the beginning of the unit. This allows them to adjust activities when needed so that all students get the best chance to build their knowledge and appreciation of science. At the back of the Student Book there is an Appendix containing additional resources for students, such as science skills, literacy strategies, and media literacy among others.

From Cells To Organisms | NGSS

Lab-Aids® Science Lab Notebook

A science notebook not only models the way scientists work, but it helps to develop and reinforce students’ science learning and literacy skills.

The Lab-Aids Science Lab Notebook is designed to support best practice note-booking strategies. It includes three-hole punched pages in a two-column design for Cornell-style notes. GraphAnywhere pages allow students to both write and easily create data-tables and graphs anywhere on the page. The unique “Lab-Log” column serves as a blank canvas for drawings, connections, and self-reflective notes. 160 pages total.

From Cells To Organisms | NGSS

Complete Equipment Package

Lab-Aids programs include high-quality equipment for each activity. This includes innovative lab-ware to be used throughout the year, specific solutions and materials for unique labs, as well as items needed for card sorts, modeling, role-plays, and projects.

Materials for up to 5 classes of 32 students, mobile storage cart, Online Portal for one teacher includes online subscription to Teacher Edition and Resources, Student Book in English/Spanish (E/S), student sheets (E/S), visual aids (E/S), PowerPoints, online assessment system, LABsent, and supplemental resources)

From Cells To Organisms | NGSS

Teacher Edition and Resources

The SEPUP Teacher Edition (TE) guides you through each activity in the Student Book and helps you see the development of concepts within the big picture of the unit. It helps you set up the equipment from the kit, organize the classroom, conduct activities, and manage practical details, all of which enhance students’ learning environment.

The Teacher Edition text is broken down into several sections, such as Activity Overview, NGSS Connections and Correlations, Materials and Advanced Prep, Teaching Summary, and Background information to name a few. The Teacher Edition is packaged as a color-printed, loose-leaf binder which allows you to personalize it with highlighting, annotations, rearrangements, and insertions. It provides full support for teaching the program. Additional support resources can also found in the Teacher Resource book.

The Teacher Resource (TR) provides background and suggestions to increase the overall effectiveness of implementing the program across all levels of learners. Some sections include: SEPUP’s Approach to Teaching and Learning, Differentiation Strategies for Diverse Learners, Literacy Strategies for Supporting Reading Comprehension and for Enhancing Students’ Writing, and comprehensive instruction on the SEPUP Assessment System. There is also a section containing unit specific resources, such as overviews, unit storyline and phenomena table, NGSS correlations, assessment blueprints, and item banks.

Online Portal for Students

Access to Student online portal for 1 year, which includes: the digital Student Book (Spanish coming soon), additional resources, and LABsent sheets and videos for absent students. Ability to highlight, bookmark and make notes in the Student Book, complete homework and assessments, and communicate with the teacher. Also available as multi-year subscriptions.

Online Portal for Teachers

Access to Teacher online portal for 7 years, which includes: online subscription to the Teacher Edition and Resources, Student Book (Spanish coming soon), LABsent sheets & videos for absent students, Editable PowerPoints for each lesson, and integrated online assessment system. Ability to highlight, bookmark, and make notes in personal Student and Teacher books, create and assign homework and assessments, and communicate with students. Available as multi-year subscriptions. Single Sign-On (SSO) available