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Massachusetts Science Standards

   Grades K-4
Characteristics of Organisms 
Explore and describe that plants and animals are living things and have characteristics that differentiate them from non-living things.

NatureWorks Episodes

All Episodes

Demonstrate an understanding that plants and animals go through predictable life cycles. These cycles differ from species to species, but all include growth, development, reproduction, and death.

Observe and describe that plants and animals have different structures which serve different functions in growth, survival, and reproduction. These contribute to the well-being of the whole organism, and to the success of its offspring.

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1. Adaptation
2. Coloration
3. Natural Communication
4. Migration

Demonstrate awareness that there are millions of kinds of living things on earth, and that the number of species is not known. Classify living things on the basis of similarity in appearance and behavior.

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13. Species Diversity

Diversity and Adaptation of Organisms
Give examples of how different plants and animals have features that help them thrive in different kinds of places. Recognize that these features may be external, or internal (such as warm- or cold-bloodedness), or behavioral.

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1. Adaptation
2. Coloration
3. Natural Communication
4. Migration

Identify some kinds of organisms that once lived on earth and that have completely disappeared.

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16. Life at Risk

Describe ways in which some organisms that lived long ago are similar to existing organisms, but some are quite different.

Observe and illustrate ways that individuals of the same kind differ in some of their characteristics, and that sometimes the differences give individuals an advantage in surviving and reproducing.

NatureWorks Episodes

1. Adaptation
2. Coloration
3. Natural Communication
4. Migration

Compare fossils to one another and to living organisms according to their similarities and differences.

Heredity
Provide examples of variations as well as similarities among individuals of the same species. Recognize that although it is hard for us to see this, it is true of all kinds of organisms.

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1. Adaptation
13. Species Diversity

Observe and describe that some of the variations within a species are acquired during the individual's lifetime (such as an athlete's muscles, or the ability to play the piano); some were inherited from the individual's parents (such as eye color); some start with inherited tendencies, which develop in individual ways owing to the conditions of the individual's life (such as height and foot-size).

Identify ways that offspring resemble their parents, but are not identical to them. Realize that in every group of organisms, there is variation in every characteristic.

Organisms and Environments
Provide evidence that all organisms use some basic chemical building blocks, including water and oxygen. Observe that each kind of organism has special living requirements, and each has its own way to get the energy and nutrients it needs.

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5. Habitat
6. Marine Communities
7. Fresh Water Communities
8. Terrestrial Communities
9. The Wildlife Web I 
10. The Wildlife  Web II
11. Decomposers/Scavengers
12. Population Dynamics
13. Species Diversity

Observe that green plants can make their own food from sunlight; animals consume plants or other organisms for their food.

NatureWorks Episodes

9. The Wildlife Web I 
10. The Wildlife  Web II
11. Decomposers/Scavengers

Explore and illustrate an understanding that decomposers, which are single-celled organisms and fungi, break down dead plants and animals for food.

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11. Decomposers/Scavengers

Provide examples of living organisms meeting their needs by interacting with living and non-living parts of the environment in which they live.

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5. Habitat
6. Marine Communities
7. Fresh Water Communities
8. Terrestrial Communities

Observe that species are dependent on each other to maintain life. Examine ways in which the different features of each species enable it to live and reproduce in a particular environment (habitat).

NatureWorks Episodes

5. Habitat
6. Marine Communities
7. Fresh Water Communities
8. Terrestrial Communities
9. The Wildlife Web I 
10. The Wildlife  Web II
11. Decomposers/Scavengers
12. Population Dynamics
14. Niche

Observe and demonstrate ways that all organisms effect change in the environment where they live. Recognize that some of these changes are detrimental to themselves and other organisms, whereas others are beneficial.

NatureWorks Episodes

4. Migration
5. Habitat
6. Marine Communities
7. Fresh Water Communities
8. Terrestrial Communities
9. The Wildlife Web I 
10. The Wildlife  Web II
11. Decomposers/Scavengers
12. Population Dynamics
14. Niche
15. Invasive Species
16. Life at Risk

Observe ways that changes in environmental factors, such as humidity, temperature, and light, also affect the organisms in an environment.

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4. Migration
5. Habitat
6. Marine Communities
7. Fresh Water Communities
8. Terrestrial Communities
16. Life at Risk

   
   Grade 5-8
Characteristics of Organisms
Identify the cell as the basic unit of life and the smallest unit that can reproduce itself. Give examples of single and multi-cellular organisms.

Explore and describe an understanding that plants, animals, fungi, and various types of microorganisms are major categories of living organisms. Each category includes many different species. Note that these categories are subject to change. Life does not always fit into neat categories (e.g., are viruses alive?)

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13. Species Diversity

Observe and explain that in single cells there are common features that all cells have as well as differences that determine their function. Compare the features of plant and animal cells noting similarities and differences.

Investigate and illustrate evidence that cell replication results not only in the multiplication of individual cells, but also in the growth and repair of multi-cellular organisms.

Present data to illustrate that all organisms, whether single or multi-cellular, exhibit the same life processes, including growth, reproduction and the exchange of materials and energy with their environments.

Describe ways that cells can differ in multi-cellular organisms, assuming different appearances and carrying out specialized functions.

Investigate and explain that complex multi-cellular organisms are interacting systems of cells, tissues, and organs that fulfill life processes through mechanical, electrical, and chemical means, including procuring or manufacturing food, and breathing and respiration.

Diversity and Adaptation of Organisms
Explain situations in which short-term changes in available food, moisture, or temperature of an ecosystem may result in a change in the number of organisms in a population or in the average size of individual organisms or in the behavior of individuals in a population. Explore through models and evidence ways in which long term changes may result in the elimination of a population or the introduction of new populations.

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12. Population Dynamics
15. Invasive Species
16. Life at Risk

Explore and illustrate that in both the short and long term (millions of years), changes in the environment have resulted in qualitative and quantitative changes in the species of plants and animals that inhabit the Earth.

NatureWorks Episodes

1. Adaptation
16. Life at Risk

Heredity, Reproduction and Development
Explain the importance of reproduction to the survival of the species. Students compare and contrast sexual and asexual (e.g., yeast) reproduction.

Investigate and describe processes by which organisms that have two parents receive a full set of genetic instructions by way of the parents' reproduction cells specifying individual traits from each parent. Offspring exhibit traits from each parent.

Illustrate an understanding that sorting and recombining of the genetic material of parents during reproduction produce the potential for variation among offspring.

Examine evidence and describe that there are minor differences among individuals from the same population or among individuals of the same species. Explore ways in which some differences are acquired by the individual and affect only that individual, while other differences can be passed on to the individual's offspring.

NatureWorks Episodes

13. Species Diversity

Ecosystems and Organisms
Present evidence that species depend on one another. Describe ways in which interactions of organisms with each other and non-living parts of their environments result in the flow of energy and matter throughout the system.

NatureWorks Episodes

9. The Wildlife Web I 
10. The Wildlife  Web II
11. Decomposers/Scavengers

Explore and illustrate how energy is supplied to an ecosystem primarily in the form of sunlight. Examine evidence that plants convert light energy into stored energy which the plant, in turn, uses to carry out its life processes. Describe how this serves as the beginning of the food chain for all animals.

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9. The Wildlife Web I 

Observe and illustrate the variety of ways in which plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms interact. Represent how matter is cycled and recycled through these interactions, and energy flows through ecosystems.

NatureWorks Episodes

9. The Wildlife Web I 
10. The Wildlife  Web II
11. Decomposers/Scavengers
 

Classify organisms according to the function they serve in a food chain (any single organism can serve each of these functions): production of food, consumption of food, or decomposition of organic matter.

NatureWorks Episodes

9. The Wildlife Web I 
10. The Wildlife  Web II
11. Decomposers/Scavengers



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