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 3 specifically addresses the diversity of protists, as AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) assessment data indicates that less than 30% of middle school students correctly identify that some living things can be made of only a single cell and different cells can vary in size and shape.
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