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Biology—Semester B (2014-2015)

Evolve your bio knowledge.

Hey, how'd you get in here? This is the old, busted, 2014–2015 version of our Biology course. If you want the shiny new hotness, go check out Semester A or Semester B of our new and improved Biology course.

Course Breakdown

Unit 7. Evolution

This unit starts by saluting the father of evolution, Mr. Charles Darwin. From there we'll move on to the golden topic of the unit: natural selection. After that, the mechanisms of evolution, and finally, how an entirely new species can arise. Once students recover from the speciation revelation, we'll geek out by looking at evidence of evolution like fossils.

Unit 8. Population Genetics

What do you get when you cross Mendel and Darwin? Population genetics. This unit takes the study of both fields further, looking at how populations evolve, the role of mutations in evolution, what the deal is with lethal alleles, and the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium principle.

Unit 9. Ecology

This unit moves beyond the individual organisms studied in the previous units and explores how organisms interact with their environments. Starting with biodiversity, we'll learn about species interactions, population ecology, energy cycles, and how energy gets from plants into us.

Unit 10. Microorganisms

In this unit, Shmoop's got the scoop on all (living) things microscopic. Students will learn about the structures and functions of viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, and show off their newfound knowledge by creating a CDC brochure.

Unit 11. Plants

Shmoop thinks that plants are seriously underrated. They can make their own food from light and they reproduce without even moving. In this unit, we'll get intimately familiar with plants, focusing on plant evolution, physiology, and ecology.

Unit 12. Animals

To round out this course, we'll learn the ins and outs (literally!) of animals, including one we're all intimately familiar with: human beings. After a brief foray into different classifications of animals, we'll focus on physiology, including everyone's favorite systems, the circulatory, nervous, endocrine, and immune systems.

Sample Lesson - Introduction

Lesson 2: Natural Selection

"Survival of the fittest." Surely you've heard the term before. And no, we're not talking about physically fit people fighting each other to be the last one standing, Hunger Games-style. We're talking about a different meaning of "fittest" that doesn't necessarily involve washboard abs.

Survival of the fittest describes a process a little like Dancing with the Stars where the dancers with the lowest scores get the boot from the competition. Only the best dancers survive and remain on the show. Well, usually. Unfortunately, there are no glittery leotards or samba music involved in the biological version.

You don't have to be this chiseled to be considered the "fittest" in "survival of the fittest." Slackers, rejoice!

We know evolution happens based on the finches from the last lesson. One species of finch evolved to give rise to different new species. But, how does it happen?

Natural selection describes how evolution occurs. In natural selection, only those organisms with traits most suitable for the environment will survive to reproduce and pass those traits on. The poor unfortunate organisms that don't have these traits die off.

Let's think about it this way: let's say you've decided to go on a health kick and get rid of all of the candy in your house. After scouring the pantry, you collect some loose black jellybeans, individually wrapped lifesavers, mini-Snickers bars, and Starburst. You put all of the candy in a bowl and set it somewhere for all to eat.

After a couple of days, you notice that all of the candy has been taken except for the black jellybeans. Something about those jellybeans prevented them from being eaten by wily human predators. Maybe it is because they weren't individually wrapped like the other candy which means they must be covered in germs…gross. Maybe it's because they're probably the least liked type of jellybean. Who likes black jellybeans anyway? Whatever the reason, the black jellybeans had traits that made them suitable to stay in the candy bowl. The candy that was taken had traits less suitable for the candy bowl and which made them good candidates for predation.

Natural selection works somewhat like the candy bowl model. Some organisms survive because they have traits that make them more likely to pass on their genes. A trait leading them to not be eaten by predators is one example of increased fitness.

In this lesson, you'll learn more about how natural selection works and understand why it's nicknamed "survival of the fittest." We're also guessing you will probably forever link Dancing with the Stars with natural selection. Sorry about that...Just imagine Darwin participating in Dancing with the Stars, grimace and all.

  • Course Length: 18 weeks
  • Course Number: 210
  • Grade Levels: 9, 10
  • Course Type: Basic
  • Category:
    • Science
    • High School
  • Prerequisites:
    Biology—Semester A (2014-2015)

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