Unit 1 - Life Sciences


In this unit students will learn about the flow of energy and matter (nutrients) through ecosystems. After learning about trophic levels and food chains, the unit will focus on how multicellular animals obtain matter and energy from their environment through ingestion and digestion. Students will be introduced to mechanical and chemical digestion and conduct labs to investigate enzyme activity. The unit will finish with an overview of nutrition and health. Students will evaluate claims about health and nutrition made in the popular media.

Learning Targets

  • Knows that all life forms need energy and nutrients to grow and survive
  • Knows that different forms of life obtain the raw materials for energy differently: Plants make their own food by photosynthesis while animals find their food and eat it
  • Can distinguish mechanical digestion from chemical digestion
  • Can identify different organs of the digestive system
  • Can explain what takes place at different parts of the digestive system
  • Can explain why food must be digested
  • Understands the roles of enzymes in digestion
  • Can explain how enzymes can become denatured
  • Can make scientific observations
  • Can make scientific inferences based on experimental results
  • Can draw basic conclusions based on experimental results
  • Can evaluate the reliability of experimental results and suggest realistic improvements to a protocol to improve reliability
  • Can compare scientific and non-scientific claims
  • Can explain why a claim is not scientific
  • Understands how different stage of life and lifestyles call for different diets

Enduring understanding

Biological systems utilize free energy to grow, reproduce, and maintain life functions. Animals satisfy their energy needs by ingesting and digesting other living things as food. This is part of the energy and matter cycle. The nutrients in food are absorbed after being digested and absorbed to be reassembled as part of the organism’s structure and life functions. Biological systems interact with each other, and those interactions possess complex properties.

Essential Questions

  • What do animals need to survive?
  • What’s in food?
  • How does our diet affect our health?
  • How can I identify false claims about food and health?
  • How do dietary needs differ from person to person?
  • What happens to food after I eat it?
  • How does the digestive system work together to digest food?
  • How is the structure of the digestive system adapted to its function?
  • How can I use indicator tests to test the presence of food molecules?


Global citizens: the food we consume becomes the building blocks for our bodies, connecting us to the natural world on the molecular level. Unique individuals: humans have unique bodies and nutritional requirements based on their lifestyle.

Content and Skills

The cycle of energy and matter through ecosystems