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 10 - 12 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 Set 1: How are the traits of the two varieties of monkeyflowers similar or different? (7 days) - This learning set introduces the mystery story of the monkeyflower to the students through an immersive graphic novel and a plant experiment with monkeyflowers. The graphic novel and plant experiment are based on the scientific work of Dr. David Lowry, and his research about speciation of monkeyflowers at Michigan State University. https://davidbryantlowry.wordpress.com/people/
Learning Set 2: What causes the similarities and differences between monkeyflower traits? (18 days) - In this learning set, the students will figure out the process of sexual reproduction of plants and the structure and function of DNA.
Learning Set 3: How does changing the environmental conditions affect the survival of different monkeyflowers? (9 days) - In this learning set, the students will continue their experiments with the monkeyflowers to examine how adaptive traits can become non-adaptive traits if the environmental conditions change. The students will plan and carry out an investigation to examine what happens to the coastal and inland monkeyflowers when their environmental conditions change.
Learning Set 4: How do the differences between monkeyflowers develop over time? (13 days) - In this learning set, the students use the context of stickleback fish in Loberg Lake to figure out the principles of natural selection. Then, they will apply the concept of natural selection and adaptation to the changes of monkeyflowers.
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.
- How SIMILAR or DIFFERENT are we?(Teacher Guide)
- How SIMILAR and DIFFERENT are we? (Student Guide)
- How SIMILAR and DIFFERENT are we? (Community Activity Handbook)
Unit 1 Citation: Morales, Consuelo J., Lee, J., Adler, I., Makori, H., Bayer, I., (2022). Health in Our Hands: Mystery of the Monkeyflower (High School) [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.
License: CC-BY-SA 4.0 Modifications YES, commercial use YES, sharing required YES (CC-BY-SA-4.0) This resource is provided under the terms of the Creative Commons license linked below. You may remix, tweak, and build upon this resource for non-commercial and commercial purposes, as long as you provide credit to CREATE for STEM Institute at Michigan State University and license your new creations under identical terms.