The Living Environment

  • The Living Environment
    Key Ideas


    Standard 4: Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science.

    Key Idea 1:
    Living things are both similar to and different from each other and from nonliving things.

    Introduction: Living things are similar to each other yet different from non-living things. The cell is the basic unit of structure and function of living things (cell theory). For all living things, life activities are accomplished at the cellular level. Viruses lack cellular organization.

    Key Idea 2:
    Organisms inherit genetic information in a variety of ways that result in continuity of structure and function between parents and offspring.

    Introduction: Every organism requires a set of instructions for specifying its traits. This information is found in the genes of cells. As organisms reproduce, these instructions are passed from one generation to the next.

    Key Idea 3:
    Individual organisms and species change over time.

    Introduction: Evolution is the changes in a species over time. Millions of diverse species are alive today. Generally, this diversity of species developed through gradual processes of change occurring over many generations. Species acquire many of their unique characteristics through biological adaptation, which involves the selection of naturally occurring variations in populations (natural selection). Biological adaptations are differences in structures, behaviors, or physiology that enhance survival and reproductive success in a particular environment.

    Key Idea 4:
    The continuity of life is sustained through reproduction and development.

    Introduction: The survival of a species depends on the ability of a living organism to produce offspring. Living things go through a life cycle involving both reproductive and developmental stages. Development follows an orderly sequence of events.

    Key Idea 5:
    Organisms maintain a dynamic equilibrium that sustains life.

    Introduction: All organisms must be able to obtain and use resources, grow, reproduce, and maintain stable internal conditions while living in a constantly changing external environment. Organisms respond to internal or environment stimuli.

    Key Idea 6:
    Plants and animals depend on each other and their physical environment.

    Introduction: An environmentally aware citizen should have an understanding of the natural world. All organisms interact with one another and are dependent upon their physical environment. Energy and matter flow from one organism to another. Matter is recycles in ecosystems. Energy enters ecosystems as sunlight, and is eventually lost from the community to the environment, mostly as heat.

    Key Idea 7:
    Human decision and activities have had a profound impact on the physical and living environment.

    Introduction: The number of organisms an ecosystem can support depends on the available resources and the physical factors: quantity of light, air, and water; range of temperature; soil composition. To ensure the survival of life on our planet, people have a responsibility to consider the impact of their actions on the environment.