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Lesson Plans Library 6-8 > Life Science
The Basics: Life Science
The Basics: Life Science
Grade level: 6-8 Subject: Life Science Duration: 3 class periods

lesson plan support
Student Objectives
  • Discuss the topics covered under the term "life science."
  • Create a poster illustrating the elements of the food chain on the Serengeti in Tanzania.
  • Write an accompanying paragraph describing the organization of the food chain.
  • The Basics: Life Science
  • Computer with Internet access
  • Poster board
  • Markers and colored pencils
  1. Begin the lesson by reviewing the topics covered under the term "life science." To spur conversation, remind students that this area of science relates to all the organisms on Earth, what they look like, where they live, their characteristics, and how some organisms relate to each other. After this brief introduction, students may suggest the following topics:
    • Plants
    • Animals and the habitats in which they live
    • The human body
    • Microorganisms
    • Advances in medicine
  2. Tell students they will focus on one life science topic—the relationship between plants and animals in the ecosystem of Serengeti, in Tanzania, Africa. Ecosystem is the term used to describe an ecological community of living things interacting with their environment.
  3. Ask students to watch the segments entitled "Predator and Prey" and "Grasslands" inThe Basics: Life Scienceand to pay close attention to information about the food chain, which is the relationship of plants and animals based on what animals eat.
  4. After viewing, have students work in groups of three to illustrate the elements of the food chain on the Serengeti. Each group will draw a picture of the food chain and write a description that includes the following details:
    • A definition of a food chain
    • A summary of the organisms in the food chain, clearly describing who eats whom
    • Definitions of the terms "herbivore," "carnivore," and "scavenger" and how these terms help explain a food chain
  5. Give students time in class to work on their projects or let them finish the assignment as homework.
  6. During the next class period, ask each group to share its poster and description. Then discuss what students have learned from this project. How does describing an ecosystem in terms of the food chain help clarify the roles its organisms? How does it make the behavior of animals easier to understand?

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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • 3 points: Students were highly engaged in class and small-group discussions and produced a clear and accurate poster and description, with all the requested components.
  • 2 points: Students participated in class and small-group discussions and produced an adequate poster and description, with most of the requested components.
  • 1 point: Students participated minimally in class and small-group discussions and produced an incomplete poster and description, with few or none of the requested components.

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Definition:An organism that eats mostly animals
Context:Cheetahs and hyenas are two carnivores that live on the Serengeti, in Tanzania.

Definition:A system made up of an ecological community of living things interacting with their environment, especially under natural conditions
Context:The Serengeti, in Tanzania, Africa, is a large and complex ecosystem.

food chain
Definition:A series of organisms in which each uses the next, usually lower, member of the series as a food source
Context:On the Serengeti, the grasses are at the bottom of the food chain, followed by the gazelles and wildebeest, which eat the grass, and the cheetahs and hyenas, which eat the gazelles and the wildebeest.

Definition:An animal that eats mostly plants
Context:Zebras and wildebeest are herbivores that migrate across the Serengeti in search of fresh grass.

Definition:An animal that hunts other animals for food
Context:Cheetahs are masterful predators, able to run quickly over short distances to overtake their prey.

Definition:An animal often hunted by other animals
Context:Herbivores are often the prey, while carnivores are the predators.

Definition:An organism that usually feeds on dead or decaying matter
Context:The hyena is usually a predator, but it becomes a scavenger if it finds a dead animal.

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Academic Standards
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL’s Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks,
This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:
  • Life Science ? Understands the relationships among organisms in their physical environment
  • Language Arts ? Viewing: Uses a range of strategies to interpret visual media
National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences provides guidelines for teaching science in grades K–12 to promote scientific literacy. To view the standards, visit this Web
This lesson plan addresses the following science standards:
    Grades 5-8
  • Life Science: Structure and function in living systems; Regulation an behavior

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