FOSS Module Summary

Course Summary – Diversity of Life (1st Ed.)


The FOSS Diversity of Life Course emphasizes the use of knowledge and evidence to construct explanations for the structures and functions of living organisms. Students observe and maintain protists, plants, and animals in the classroom and study their characteristic features. The study progresses from macroscopic to microscopic observation to discover the fundamental unit of life, the cell. Students then investigate organism subsystems and behaviors and consider their diversity of adaptive structures and strategies.


  • Consider characteristics that are common to all living organisms and develop an operational definition of life.
  • Become familiar with the microscope as a tool used by scientists to study organisms in detail.
  • Discover cells and begin to understand their importance as the basic units of life.
  • Appreciate the diversity of cells that contribute to the diversity of life on Earth.
  • Observe and describe the first developmental stages of a plant and recognize that seeds are living organisms in a dormant state.
  • Conduct investigations to understand how the vascular system transports water throughout a plant and how stomates on leaves regulate the rate of water flow through a plant.
  • Investigate the reproductive systems in flowers to understand the origin of seeds and explore plant adaptations for seed dispersal.
  • Observe and analyze snail structures and behaviors in order to set up a secure and supportive habitat for them.
  • Explore the concept of adaptation by studying the structures and behaviors of an insect , relating those adaptations to the roach's natural history and habitat.
  • Explore the Monera (bacteria), Protista (algae), and Fungi kingdoms to understand their roles in the scheme of life.
  • Become familiar with and acquire vocabulary concerning these concepts: cell, tissue, organism, structure, function, behavior, adaptation, system interaction, transpiration, development.
  • Exercise language, social studies, and math skills in the context of science.
  • Use scientific thinking processes to conduct investigations and build explanations: observing, communicating, comparing, organizing, relating, and inferring.

For a description of each investigation in the Diversity of Life Course and the correlations to the National Science Education Standards, download the Course Summary PDF.

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