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The Curriculum Cosmic Evolution Planetary Evolution Origin of Life Evolution of Life Hominid Evolution Evolution of Technology
Standards & Assessment

The primary content standards and benchmarks for the Evolution of Life module, to which all of the lessons in the module contribute, are:

"Natural selection and its evolutionary consequences provide a scientific explanation for the fossil record of ancient life forms, as well as for the striking molecular similarities observed among the diverse species of living organisms. " NSES: (9-12), p. 185

"The basic idea of biological evolution is that the earth's present-day species developed from earlier, distinctly different species." BSL: (9-12), p.125

"In evolutionary change, the present arises from the materials and forms of the past, more or less gradually, and in ways that can be explained." BSL: (9-12), p. 275

The following standards and benchmarks are specific to lessons in the module:

Lesson 1: Introduction/Pre-Assessment

The pre-assessment concept map activity provides insight into students' understanding of earlier grade-level standards and benchmarks that pertain to the module..

Lesson 2: How Diverse is Life?

"The great diversity of organisms is the result of more than 3.5 billion years of evolution that has filled every available niche with life forms." NSES: (9-12), p. 185 [also addressed in Lesson 3]

"For sexually reproducing organisms, a species comprises all organisms that can mate with one another to produce fertile offspring." BSL: (6-8), p. 104.

Lesson 3: Life's Diversity Over Time

"Many thousands of layers of sedimentary rock provide evidence for the long history of the earth and for the long history of changing life forms whose remains are found in the rocks. More recently deposited rock layers are more likely to contain fossils resembling existing species." BSL: (6-8), p. 124

"The great diversity of organisms is the result of more than 3.5 billion years of evolution that has filled every available niche with life forms." NSES: (9-12), p. 185 [also addressed in Lesson 2]

"Extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and the adaptive characteristics of a species are insufficient to allow its survival. Fossils indicate that many organisms that lived long ago are extinct. Extinction of species is common; most of the species that have lived on the earth no longer exist." NSES: (5-8), p. 158

Lesson 4: How Does Life Evolve?

"New heritable characteristics can result from new combinations of existing genes or from mutations of genes in reproductive cells. Changes in other cells of an organism cannot be passed on to the next generation. " BSL: (9-12), p. 125

"Natural selection provides the following mechanism for evolution: Some variation in heritable characteristics exists within every species, some of these characteristics give individuals an advantage over others in surviving and reproducing, and the advantaged offspring, in turn, are more likely than others to survive and reproduce. The proportion of individuals that have advantageous characteristics will increase. " BSL: (9-12), p. 125

"Species evolve over time. Evolution is the consequence of the interactions of: (1) the potential for a species to increase its numbers, (2) the genetic variability of the offspring due to mutation and recombination of genes, (3) a finite supply of resources required for life, and (4) the ensuing selection by the environment of those offspring better able to survive and leave offspring." NSES: (9-12), p. 185

Lesson 5: How Are Living Things Related?

"Biological classifications are based on how organisms are related. Organisms are classified into a hierarchy of groups and subgroups based on similarities which reflect their evolutionary relationships. Species is the most fundamental unit of classification." NSES: (9-12), p. 185

"Molecular evidence substantiates the anatomical evidence for evolution and provides additional detail about the sequence in which various lines of descent branched off from one another." BSL: (9-12), p. 125

"The degree of kinship between organisms or species can be estimated from the similarity of their DNA sequences, which often closely matches their classification based on anatomical similarities." BSL: (9-12), p. 105

"The millions of different species of plants, animals, and microorganisms that live on earth today are related by descent from common ancestors." NSES: (9-12), p. 185

Lesson 6: Closing

The closing assessment activities are a sampling of key ideas from across all of the lessons and address all of the standards and benchmarks from the lessons. The inclusion of main concepts in the concept map will vary by student.

Other standards and benchmarks are addressed across the lessons of the module. These include the following:

History and Nature of Science

"Science distinguishes itself from other ways of knowing and from other bodies of knowledge through the use of empirical standards, logical arguments, and skepticism, as scientists strive for the best possible explanations about the natural world." NSES: (9-12), p. 201

"The historical perspective of scientific explanations demonstrates how scientific knowledge changes by evolving over time, almost always building on earlier knowledge." NSES: (9-12), p. 204

Abilities to Do Inquiry

"Formulate and revise scientific explanations and models using logic and evidence." NSES: (9-12), p. 175

"Use tables, charts, and graphs in making arguments and claims in oral and written presentations." BSL: (9-12), p. 297


The content, abilities, and skills to be achieved by students in the Voyages through Time curriculum are based on standards and benchmarks from the National Science Education Standards (NSES), National Research Council, 1996; from Benchmarks for Science Literacy (BSL), American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1993; and from Standards for Technological Literacy (STL), International Technology Education Association. (2000), Reston, VA.

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Voyages Through Time is an integrated high school science curriculum for ninth or tenth grade based on the theme of evolution and delivered on CD-ROM.