High School Curriculum

High School Curriculum Overview

The high school curriculum consists of two units which focus on concepts in molecular genetics, genomics, and evolution through multiple phenomena including variation in monkeyflowers and variation in skin color, and additional phenomena related to human health. Taught in sequence, these two units cover many of high school life science NGSS for high school biology. STEM careers and ethical issues are also highlighted.

The units are currently under development and being tested in classrooms but can be used with appropriate citations and recognizing that revised versions will be distributed in the future. To realize the full potential of the curriculum, professional development and support for teachers in the classroom is highly recommended.

 

Unit 1: Mystery of the Monkeyflowers 

Mystery of the Monkeyflowers is a 6 week, NGSS-aligned, project-based learning unit for high school lifescience. Students use a monkeyflower plant experiment and a graphic novel developed to learn how traits evolve over time through natural selection. The experiment is based on the research of Dr. David Lowry, plant biologist at Michigan State University, who is studying how different environments affect the development of different traits in the population of one species of monkeyflowers (Mimulus). The graphic novel was developed in collaboration with Dr. Lowry’s research team. Monkeyflowers, which grow quickly, produce many seeds, and have a simple genome, are the subject of study of many researchers who study plant evolution and adaptations. Monkeyflowers have adapted to have many colors and forms, diverse lifestyles, and extraordinary hardiness.

The curriculum is under development and being tested in classrooms but can be used with appropriate citations and recognizing that revised versions will be distributed in the future. To realize the full potential of the curriculum, professional development and support for teachers in the classroom is highly recommended.

 

Learning Sets:

Learning Set 1: How do the differences between monkeyflowers happen over time? (12-14 days) Students answer two questions that will help them understand the concepts of adaptation, natural selection, and evolution: (1) What differences have evolved between two types of monkeyflowers of the same species? (2) Why have these differences evolved? The graphic novel provides a framework for students’ investigations.

Learning Set 2: What causes the differences between monkeyflower traits? (4 days) Students investigate the relationships between DNA, proteins, and traits. Through the monkeyflower experiments, students realize that organisms have different traits and that the differences are associated with genes. They engage in various activities to support their understanding of the structure and function of the DNA, proteins and mutations.

Learning Set 3: What happens to the monkeyflowers if environmental conditions change? (2 Days + ongoing observations for app. 1 week) Students continue monkeyflower experiments to examine how adaptive traits can become non-adaptive traits if environmental conditions change by planning and carrying out an investigation to examine what happens to the coastal and inland monkeyflowers when their environmental conditions change.  

 

Unit 2: How SIMILAR or DIFFERENT are we? 

Health in Our Hands: How Similar and Different Are We? is a half-semester (8 week), NGSS-aligned course for high school biology covering molecular genetics and genomics. By investigating multiple phenomena, e.g., skin color and lactose intolerance, students connect molecular mechanisms to cellular function to understand how genes influence our physical features and health. Students are introduced to genomics, the study of the genetic makeup of an entire population. For their final project, students conduct a community action research project to consider ethical implications of genetic research. They share results and recommendations at a Health Summit with family and broader community. (Under revision)

This unit was developed during an earlier SEPA project, Education for Community Genomic Awareness, which produced a high school curriculum addressing molecular genetics and genomics working in partnership high schools in Detroit and Flint. The unit will be revised, updated, and tested in schools starting in 2022. However, educators may find it valuable to adapt it in its current form with appropriate citations until the revised version is released.

 

Unit 1 Citation: Adler, I., Morales, C., Lee, J., Bayer, R., Krajcik, J., (2017). Health in Our Hands: Mystery of the Monkeyflowers [Curriculum]. Michigan State University: CREATE for STEM Institute.

Unit 2 Citation: Rogat, A., Alozie, N., Eklund, J., Morales, C.M., Krajcik, J. (2012) How Similar and Different Are We? [Curriculum] University of Michigan.

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