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Biology—Semester A

Let's get cellular.

To life, to life, biology! In this course, we lift our soda bottles to biology, the study of life. 

Chances are, you've heard of cells, genetics, and evolution. After all, you can't watch the news or any show on Hulu without hearing about stem cells, DNA evidence, or the controversy over evolution. But can you tell us

  • how plants manage to get energy from the sun?
  • how a blond-haired kid can be born to a brown-haired family?
  • why exactly carbs are not the evil enemy the media has made them out to be, but the one molecule essential to human survival?

Our lessons, glossaries, readings, and activities could help you out there, dontcha think? Tagged with the Next Generation Science Standards, our course has everything you need to make science your biomass.

P.S. Biology is a two-semester course. You're looking at Semester A, but you can check out Semester B here.

Course Breakdown

Unit 1. Introduction to Biology

In this introductory unit, we'll answer the big questions of life. No really. We'll ask the question: what is life. You'll also get comfortable with other big issues of biology, including the scientific method and biological organization.

Unit 2. The Chemistry of Life

What better way to get acquainted with biology than through...chemistry? That's right. In this unit, we'll go straight down to the bottom of the biological pyramid by learning some foundational concepts for our study of biology, including atomic bonding, the properties of water, and macromolecules.

Unit 3. Cells

Movin' on up the biological pyramid, we come to the smallest unit of life: the cell. This unit covers the properties and components of eukaryotes and prokaryotes, enzymes, osmosis and diffusion, and everyone's favorite cellular process: mitosis.

Unit 4. Biochemical Pathways

Ever wondered how that Snickers bar is broken down by your cells? Well, you're in luck, because this unit covers the basics of cellular respiration, the process by which your cells get energy from food. You'll get the deets on aerobic and anaerobic respiration and find out about plants' superpowers: photosynthesis.

Unit 5. Mendelian Genetics

Peas changed the world. True story. In this unit, we'll find out how Gregor Mendel discovered genes, and indirectly founded the field of genetics, through observing peas. You'll get cozy with DNA, meiosis, Punnett squares, genetic disorders (well, not too cozy), and other genetics issues.

Unit 6. Molecular Genetics

Our quest to gain total DNA mastery continues in this short unit on DNA and RNA. Replication, transcription, and translation will make their appearances here, culminating with a mini-unit on biotechnology.

Sample Lesson - Introduction

Lesson 2: Finding Life in the Backyard

Ever felt truly alone? Like those movies when it's raining outside and the movie star is staring longingly outside with sad music playing in the background? Well, cheer up. No matter how alone we feel, there are thousands of organisms swirling in the air around you and thousands—okay, let's be real, millions—in the dirt you're walking on. We can't see them, microscopic as they are, but you can be sure they're creeping around and watching you Big Brother-style. But no worries; these guys just want to keep you company. They just need a little attention. Oh yeah, they also all display the 5 characteristics of life.

In this lesson, we'll travel out into the wide, wild world, i.e. our own backyards or the local park, to find some living specimens. In our own personal version of A Bug's Life, we'll get down and dirty with the bugs and examine the world from their point of view. Just don't let yourself get eaten. It's a bug eat bug world out there.

"I just wanted a friend!"


But before we grab our explorer gear and head out into the great beyond, we'll learn a little bit about the major "themes" of the study of biology. If you're freaking out because you thought you left themes behind in World Literature class, chillax. By themes, we just mean major ideas that will come up over and over again as we learn about biology. Like evolution. Since almost everything we'll learn about in this bio course has evolved to perform a specific function, it's one of those biggie concepts that will always come back to haunt us.

If you noticed that "evolution" sounds spookily like one of the characteristics of life, "life evolves," ding, ding, ding! Congrats. You've discovered that the themes of biology closely mirror the characteristics of life. Which makes sense, because if all living things share the same characteristics, of course we're going to see these concepts over and over again.

  • Course Length: 18 weeks
  • Course Number: 210
  • Grade Levels: 9, 10
  • Course Type: Basic
  • Category:
    • Science
    • High School
  • Prerequisites:
    Pre-Algebra—Semester A (Retired)
    Pre-Algebra—Semester B (Retired)

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