• Flagstaff High School Pre-AP Biology Syllabus

    Ms. Linda S. Lenz   

    Room 803   


    Course website:  www.tinyurl.com/lenzbio

    Course Overview

    The content of this course is aligned with the Arizona Science Standards and the content of instruction is guided by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Science’s Framework for K-12 Science Education and College Board’s AP Biology Curriculum Framework.  This course is structured around the core and component ideas (see below).  You will develop essential biology knowledge by applying science practices (see below) through inquiry-style experiences that will provide you with an organizational framework for connecting knowledge from across disciplines into a coherent and scientifically based view of the world.  You will develop the habits of mind that are necessary for scientific thinking and that allow you to engage in science in ways that are similar to those used by scientists.  Additionally, we are participating in a program called GK12, which will involve collaboration between our class and Northern Arizona University (NAU) biology PhD candidates.  This course is an Alpine Institute designated science class, and as such, will have a place-based emphasis that promotes the development of the following five core values: Inquiry, Community, Stewardship, Critical thinking and Reflection.  Students will take part in a service-learning trip to the Arboretum at Flagstaff in September and a second trip to a different location (to be determined) will be arranged for the Spring. 


    Core and Component Ideas in Biology

    • Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
    • From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
    • Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
    • Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity


    Science Practices

    • Create, describe, refine, and use scientific representations and models of scientific phenomena to analyze situations or solve problems.
    • Justify the use of mathematical routines to solve problems, apply a mathematical routine to a data set, and apply appropriate estimation techniques.
    • Engage in scientific questioning by posing, refining, and evaluating scientific questions.
    • Pan and implement data collection strategies by selecting the type of data necessary to answer a question, designing a plan for data collection, collecting data, and/or evaluating sources of data.
    • Perform data analysis and evaluate evidence by searching for patterns and relationships, refining observations and measurements based on these, and evaluate data presented in data sets in relation to a scientific question.
    • Justify claims using scientific evidence, construct explanations based on evidence, make predictions, evaluate alternative scientific explanations, and explain why scientific explanations are refined or replaced.
    • Connect knowledge of phenomena and models across both spatial and temporal scales and connect concepts across domains.


    Grade Determination

    • Flagstaff high school has adopted a 80% measurement/performance and 20% practice grade breakdown.
    • Below you will see how the percentage of points will be awarded within each category, each semester:


    Measurement/performance: 4 exams (including semester final) worth 12.5% each (50% of category total), 4 quizzes worth 7.5% each (30% of category total), 4 examples of performance to include: lab reports/lab quiz/performance rubrics, free response question writing, and case-studies 5% each (20% of category total)

    Practice: 4 unit packets worth 12.5% each (50% of category total), 10 random homework checks worth 5% each (50% of category total)

    *Actual number of assignments within each category may differ from what is planned


    Materials Required Each Class Session

    Section in a 3-ring binder: unit packet, loose-leaf notebook paper, graph paper, organized class handouts and returned work

    Following items kept in a pencil pouch:  scientific calculator (i.e. TI-30), pencils, eraser, highlighter, four colored pencils (your choice of colors), and dry-erase board marker

    *Please let me know if you require assistance acquiring any of the materials listed above


    Safety Expectations

    Conduct yourself in a responsible manner.  Keep food in your backpack, drink only from a sealable water bottle, and keep your work-space clutter-free.  Practice only the lab-specific safety and experimental procedures that are demonstrated during the pre-lab activity.  Inform me if you have any allergies, including to antibiotics (antibiotics are used in microbiology labs).  We will practice safety in the school courtyards and during excursions to the Francis Short Pond.  Failure to follow proper procedures will result in removal from the laboratory and/or outdoor environment.


    Classroom Rules

    Our classroom practices the school-wide expectations of Focus, Honor, and Success (FHS). 


    Statement of Academic Integrity Expectations:

    Integrity of scholarship is essential for an academic community. Flagstaff High School expects that students will honor this principle and in so doing protect the validity of Flagstaff High School’s intellectual work. For students, this means that all academic work will be done by the individual to whom it is assigned, without unauthorized aid of any kind.


    Classroom Procedures

    Start of class – Prior to the bell: pick up materials by the door as you enter, sit according to seating chart, read the posted entrance announcements, setup your desk with all needed materials, and turn off and stow cellphone.

    Missing required materials – Prior to the bell, you may ask to borrow an item from a classmate or your teacher.

    During class – Stay focused, on-task, and use your class time efficiently.  Work collaboratively with your peers to practice skills and build understanding. 

    Absences – You are expected to check the course website’s complete lesson folder (www.tinyurl.com/lenzbio) and review the PDF lesson and complete assigned work.  See me with questions upon your return.  Missed lab experiences will require you to complete an alternate assignment.  A missed exam or quiz must be completed during the announced after school make-up session.

    Out of class privileges – Each semester, you will be provided with three bathroom passes.  You may earn additional passes through some reasonable compensation.   Please alert me if you have a medical need that requires more frequent bathroom trips.  Unused passes may be submitted for extra credit at the end of the semester.

    Ending Class – You will be instructed to pack-up (this should take no more than 30 seconds) and class will end after successful completion of one of several possible ticket-out-the-door activities.

    Missing/Late work- Must be completed by the date of the summative assessment (exam) over the content of the work.


    Office Hours

    Daily 2:30 – 3:00

    *If you need to see me before school, please make an appointment so that I know to expect you


    Extra credit opportunities:  Submit unused bathroom passes at end of semester, Festival of Science, and Stem Night


    Suggested Parent Participation

    • Monitor student grades weekly on-line using ParentVUE and communicate questions and concerns via email.
    • Become familiar with the support and content offered on the course website (www.tinyurl.com/lenzbio).
    • View and discuss together with your student ongoing work in the student’s biology packet
    • Sign student packet/study-guide at the end of each unit and confirm that the student has enacted a study plan to prepare for the exams and quizzes.


    Core and Component Ideas in Biology from Framework for K-12 Science Education:


    Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics


    Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

    Ecosystems have carrying capacities, which are limits to the numbers of organisms and populations they can support. These limits result from such factors as the availability of living and nonliving resources and from such challenges as predation, competition, and disease. Organisms would have the capacity to produce populations of great size were it not for the fact that environments and resources are finite. This fundamental tension affects the abundance (number of individuals) of species in any given ecosystem.


    Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems

    Photosynthesis and cellular respiration (including anaerobic processes) provide most of the energy for life processes. Plants or algae form the lowest level of the food web. At each link upward in a food web, only a small fraction of the matter consumed at the lower level is transferred upward, to produce growth and release energy in cellular respiration at the higher level. Given this inefficiency, there are generally fewer organisms at higher levels of a food web, and there is a limit to the number of organisms that an ecosystem can sustain.

    The chemical elements that make up the molecules of organisms pass through food webs and into and out of the atmosphere and soil and are combined and recombined in different ways. At each link in an ecosystem, matter and energy are conserved; some matter reacts to release energy for life functions, some matter is stored in newly made structures, and much is discarded. Competition among species is ultimately competition for the matter and energy needed for life. Photosynthesis and cellular respiration are important components of the carbon cycle, in which carbon is exchanged between the biosphere, atmosphere, oceans, and geosphere through chemical, physical, geological, and biological processes.


    Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience

    A complex set of interactions within an ecosystem can keep its numbers and types of organisms relatively constant over long periods of time under stable conditions. If a modest biological or physical disturbance to an ecosystem occurs, it may return to its more or less original status (i.e., the ecosystem is resilient), as opposed to becoming a very different ecosystem. Extreme fluctuations in conditions or the size of any population, however, can challenge the functioning of ecosystems in terms of resources and habitat availability. Moreover, anthropogenic changes (induced by human activity) in the environment—including habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, overexploitation, and climate change—can disrupt an ecosystem and threaten the survival of some species.


    Social Interactions and Group Behavior

    Animals, including humans, having a strong drive for social affiliation with members of their own species and will suffer, behaviorally as well as physiologically, if reared in isolation, even if all of their physical needs are met. Some forms of affiliation arise from the bonds between offspring and parents. Other groups form among peers. Group behavior has evolved because membership can increase the chances of survival for individuals and their genetic relatives.


    From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes


    Structure and Function

    Systems of specialized cells within organisms help them perform the essential functions of life, which involve chemical reactions that take place between different types of molecules, such as water, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids. All cells contain genetic information in the form of DNA molecules. Genes are regions in the DNA that contain the instructions that code for the formation of proteins, which carry out most of the work of cells. Multicellular organisms have a hierarchical structural organization, in which any one system is made up of numerous parts and is itself a component of the next level. Feedback mechanisms maintain a living system’s internal conditions within certain limits and mediate behaviors, allowing it to remain alive and functional even as external conditions change within some range. Outside that range (e.g., at a too high or too low external temperature, with too little food or water available), the organism cannot survive. Negative feedback mechanisms are used to maintain homeostasis.


    Growth and Development of Organisms

    In multicellular organisms, individual cells grow and then divide via a process called mitosis, thereby allowing the organism to grow. The organism begins as a single cell (fertilized egg) that divides successively to produce many cells, with each parent cell passing identical genetic material (two variants of each chromosome pair) to both daughter cells. As successive subdivisions of an embryo’s cells occur, programmed genetic instructions and small differences in their immediate environments activate or inactivate different genes, which cause the cells to develop differently—a process called differentiation. Cellular division and differentiation produce and maintain a complex organism, composed of systems of tissues and organs that work together to meet the needs of the whole organism. In sexual reproduction, a specialized type of cell division called meiosis occurs that results in the production of sex cells, such as gametes in animals (sperm and eggs), which contain only one member from each chromosome pair in the parent cell


    Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms

    The process of photosynthesis converts light energy to stored chemical energy by converting carbon dioxide plus water into sugars plus released oxygen. The sugar molecules thus formed contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen; their hydrocarbon backbones are used to make amino acids and other carbon-based molecules that can be assembled into larger molecules (such as proteins or DNA), used for example to form new cells. As matter and energy flow through different organizational levels of living systems, chemical elements are recombined in different ways to form different products. As a result of these chemical reactions, energy is transferred from one system of interacting molecules to another. For example, aerobic (in the presence of oxygen) cellular respiration is a chemical process in which the bonds of food molecules and oxygen molecules are broken and new compounds are formed that can transport energy to muscles. Anaerobic (without oxygen) cellular respiration follows a different and less efficient chemical pathway to provide energy in cells. Cellular respiration also releases the energy needed to maintain body temperature despite ongoing energy loss to the surrounding environment. Matter and energy are conserved in each change. This is true of all biological systems, from individual cells to ecosystems.


    Information Processing

    In complex animals, the brain is divided into several distinct regions and circuits, each of which primarily serves dedicated functions, such as visual perception, auditory perception, interpretation of perceptual information, guidance of motor movement, and decision making about actions to take in the event of certain inputs. In addition, some circuits give rise to emotions and memories that motivate organisms to seek rewards, avoid punishments, develop fears, or form attachments to members of their own species and, in some cases, to individuals of other species (e.g., mixed herds of mammals, mixed flocks of birds). The integrated functioning of all parts of the brain is important for successful interpretation of inputs and generation of behaviors in response to them.


    Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits


    Inheritance of Traits

    In all organisms the genetic instructions for forming species’ characteristics are carried in the chromosomes. Each chromosome consists of a single very long DNA molecule, and each gene on the chromosome is a particular segment of that DNA. The instructions for forming species’ characteristics are carried in DNA. All cells in an organism have the same genetic content, but the genes used (expressed) by the cell may be regulated in different ways. Not all DNA codes for a protein; some segments of DNA are involved in regulatory or structural functions, and some have no as-yet known function.


    Variation of Traits

    The information passed from parents to offspring is coded in the DNA molecules that form the chromosomes. In sexual reproduction, chromosomes can sometimes swap sections during the process of meiosis (cell division), thereby creating new genetic combinations and thus more genetic variation. Although DNA replication is tightly regulated and remarkably accurate, errors do occur and result in mutations, which are also a source of genetic variation. Environmental factors can also cause mutations in genes, and viable mutations are inherited. Environmental factors also affect expression of traits, and hence affect the probability of occurrences of traits in a population. Thus the variation and distribution of traits observed depend on both genetic and environmental factors.


    Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity


    Evidence of Common Ancestry and Diversity

    Genetic information, like the fossil record, also provides evidence of evolution. DNA sequences vary among species, but there are many overlaps; in fact, the ongoing branching that produces multiple lines of descent can be inferred by comparing the DNA sequences of different organisms. Such information is also derivable from the similarities and differences in amino acid sequences and from anatomical and embryological evidence.


    Natural Selection

    Natural selection occurs only if there is both (1) variation in the genetic information between organisms in a population and (2) variation in the expression of that genetic information—that is, trait variation—that leads to differences in performance among individuals. The traits that positively affect survival are more likely to be reproduced and thus are more common in the population.



    Natural selection is the result of four factors: (1) the potential for a species to increase in number, (2) the genetic variation of individuals in a species due to mutation and sexual reproduction, (3) competition for an environment’s limited supply of the resources that individuals need in order to survive and reproduce, and (4) the ensuing proliferation of those organisms that are better able to survive and reproduce in that environment. Natural selection leads to adaptation—that is, to a population dominated by organisms that are anatomically, behaviorally, and physiologically well suited to survive and reproduce in a specific environment. That is, the differential survival and


    Biodiversity and Humans

    Biodiversity is increased by the formation of new species (speciation) and decreased by the loss of species (extinction). Biological extinction, being irreversible, is a critical factor in reducing the planet’s natural capital.

    Humans depend on the living world for the resources and other benefits provided by biodiversity. But human activity is also having adverse impacts on biodiversity through overpopulation, overexploitation, habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and climate change. These problems have the potential to cause a major wave of biological extinctions—as many species or populations of a given species, unable to survive in changed environments, die out—and the effects may be harmful to humans and other living things. Thus sustaining biodiversity so that ecosystem functioning and productivity are maintained is essential to supporting and enhancing life on Earth. Sustaining biodiversity also aids humanity by preserving landscapes of recreational or inspirational value.



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