Protists are used easily to examine classification systems, population diversity, life-sustaining processes, stimulus/response in the environment, and many other “big” concepts that are repeated when studying larger, more complex organisms. A strong foundation in these concepts at the unicellular level will improve student understanding throughout the life science/biology learning progression.
The conceptual lens used throughout this unit is the student development of a zoo exhibit for protists. Lesson 1 specifically addresses the six characteristics of all living organisms, as AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) assessment data indicates that only 50-53% of middle school students correctly identify that all cells/organisms have life-sustaining characteristics in common.
Download a PDF of the lesson here.