<Organisms, Behavior, Diversity, Adaptation, Reproduction, Life cycles, Heredity, Micro-organisms, and Disease Concepts
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Life Science Misconceptions & Concepts

See also cross cutting concepts: Systems, Order, Organization, and Classification - Evidence, Models, and Explanations; - Constancy, Change, and Measurement; - Evolution and Equilibrium; - Form and Function

Science Standards archives

Organization of information

Topic

Misconceptions - Initial perceptual naive ideas for all ages
(Explanations for people's misconceptions: naive understandings & perceptual responses)

Beginning concepts (preschool - 7 years)

Intermediate concepts (7 years - 11 years)

Literate concepts (11+)

Educator notes

 

Organisms (Bacteria, Eukaryota (plants, animals (human anatomy), fungi,), Archaea)

  • Structure & Function (Behavior, Adaptation, Diversity, Disease
  • Growth & Development (Reproduction, Life cycles,
  • Organization of Matter & Energy flow (
  • Information Processing (Interactions, Adaptation, Relationships, Social Interactions and Group Behavior
  • Human organisms/anatomy - Human identity; Anatomy (structure) & basic functions of life, growth, & development; Health & safety, disease physical, mental/emotional, distress and treatment
  • Humans and Animals compared ...

Ecosystems (Populations, Environmental factors, Environments,

  • Interdependent Relationships in their Environment & Ecosystems
  • Matter & Energy Flow, Transfer & Cycles
  • Dynamics, Functions, & Resilience
  • Social Interations & Group Behavior ( Interdependent Functions Relationships & Resilience

Heredity

  • Inheritance of Traits
  • Variation of Traits

Evolution

  • Evidence of Common Ancestry (Unity) & Diversity
  • Natural Selection
  • Adaptations
  • Biodiversity and Humans

 

Organisms

Organisms (Bacteria, Eukaryota (plants, animals (human anatomy), fungi,), Archaea)

  • Structure & Function (Behavior, Adaptation, Diversity, Disease
  • Growth & Development (Reproduction, Life cycles,
  • Organization of Matter & Energy flow (
  • Information Processing (Interactions, Adaptation, Relationships, Social Interactions and Group Behavior
  • Human organisms/anatomy - Human identity; Anatomy (structure) & basic functions of life, growth, & development; Health & safety, disease physical, mental/emotional, distress and treatment
  • Humans and Animals compared ...

Misconceptions - Initial perceptual naive (any age)
(Explanations for people's misconceptions: naive understandings & perceptual responses)

Organisms

  1. Any object that moves is living. (Machines, smoke, clouds, fire, moving water...)
    Non living is dead.
  2. Plants are not living.
  3. Living and growing movement makes an animal alive, a seed is dead, all living organisms make noise.
  4. Plants are not alive. because they do not move…
  5. Students will sometimes say that plants breathe and grow but still do not see them as alive.
  6. Need to talk, walk, or breathe to be alive
  7. Can't link the same properties that are associated with animals being alive to plants.

Plants

  1. Plants are not living
  2. Plants absorb food through their roots.
  3. Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, water, minerals is food
  4. Seedlings are plants or living, trees are not
  5. Grass, trees, and other plants die in the winter and are born in the spring
  6. Plants eat artificial food, nutrients, water
  7. Plants bring up soil, water, minerals to get food
  8. Need sugar to survive.
  9. Leaves change color because they don't have much moisture, get dry, and turn brown
  10. The temperature changes and leaves can't survive so they drop off.
  11. Trees hibernate like animals.
  12. When the weather gets cold plants don't get as much sun and rain and die.

Animals

  1. People are not animals.
  2. Birds, fish, insects, worms are not animals.
  3. All animals can move from place to place
  4. Animals are four footed, or furry.
  5. Animals are wild, pets, or farm animals.
  6. Animals are large.
  7. Animals live on land.
  8. Insects can’t live in water.
  9. Spiders are insects
  10. Fish don’t need air, fish sleep with their eyes closed.

Mammals

  1. have four legs
  2. live on land

Fish

  1. include dolphins, whales and sometimes seals

Bees

  1. Have bones for support
  2. Can not fly fast or far
  3. There are king bees
  4. All bees live in hives
  5. Hives are made of grass and twigs
  6. Bees are dangerous they are poisonous and will sting you
  7. Bees will sting you repeatedly

Behavior and Adaptation

  1. Living objects can change to meet their survival needs.

Regulation and Behavior

  1. Plants absorb food through their roots.

Reproduction

  1. Grass, trees, and other plants die in the winter and are born in the spring.

Clone

  1. The clone is actually the same person.
  2. A clone could be made to spare the life of a dying person.
  3. A clone would not have a soul.
  4. You could own a clone. Believe you could create an army of zombie like clones to take over the world.
  5. A clone would not be a normal organism.
  6. Cloning is creating life.
  7. Cloning is not a natural process.
  8. A clone will have the same feelings and emotions as its genetic parent.
  9. Great people could be reborn.

Microorganisms and disease

 

Educator notes

 

Concepts Beginning (preschool - 7 years)

Organisms , Behavior, Diversity, Adaptation, and Survival

  1. Plants and animals are the same and different.
  2. Organisms need food, water, and shelter to survive.
  3. The behavior of individual organisms is influenced by internal cues (such as hunger) and external cues (such as changes in the environment).
  4. Plants and animals have features that help them survive in different environments.
  5. Stories sometimes give plants and animals properties they do not have.
  6. Humans and other organisms have senses that help them detect internal and external cues
  7. Each plant and animal have different structures that serve different functions in growth, survival, and reproduction (humans have distinct body structures for walking, holding, seeing, and talking)
  8. Different plants and animals have features that help them live in different places.
  9. Some kinds of organisms that once lived on Earth have completely disappeared.

Reproduction and Life Cycles

  1. Plants and animals reproduce plants and animals similar to their parents.
  2. Plants and animals have life cycles that include being born, developing into adults, reproducing, and eventually dying.
  3. Plants and animals closely resemble their parents but not exactly.
  4. There are differences among individual organisms of a species.

Clone

  1. A clone is in many ways like identical twins. They have the same DNA, they may look the same but they have unique experiences and memories. They are two different people.

Microorganisms and disease

  1. Plants, and animals (people are animals) get infections from other organisms (germs).

 

Educator notes

 

Concepts Intermediate (7 years - 11 years)

Organisms , Behavior, Diversity, Adaptation, and Survival

  1. All living organisms use - metabolize food for energy - to move, respire, use water, reproduce, respond to the environment (sensitivity), grow, excrete waste, require nutrition.
  2. All living organisms have basic needs, (animals need air, water, food, and shelter; plants need air, water, nutrients, light, and shelter).
  3. Organisms can survive only in environments in which their needs can be met.
  4. Living organisms can be sorted into groups in many ways by their common properties.
  5. Properties used for grouping depends on the purpose of grouping.
  6. Internal and external features are used to classify organisms.
  7. Adaptation is a change in a species or individual that improves its condition or relationship to the environment.
  8. Organisms must have their basic needs met to survive.
  9. Organisms must have optimum ranges of food, light, heat, water, and shelter met to survive.
  10. All species are different.All organisms have similar needs and structures.
  11. Organisms must have their basic needs met to survive.
  12. Organisms must have optimum ranges of food, light, heat, water, and shelter met to survive.
  13. Species must reproduce to survive.
  14. Some organisms that lived long ago are similar to organisms that live today while others are different.
  15. Some individual differences provide better opportunities for surviving and reproducing.
  16. Extinction means there are no living organisms of a certain species.
  17. Adaptation is a change in a species or individual that improves its condition or relationship to the environment.
  18. Animals migrate to adapt to environmental seasonal change. Hoofed animals (bighorn sheep, moose) learn to migratory behaviors from their herd members while migrating.

Reproduction, Life Cycles, and Heredity

  1. Species must reproduce to survive.
  2. A species includes all organisms that can mate with one another to produce sexually fertile offspring.
  3. Organisms are collections of cells.
  4. Cells continually divide to make more cells for growth and repair.
  5. Important levels of organization for structure and function include cells, organs, tissues, organ systems, and organisms.
  6. Similarities among organisms internal features infer a degree of relatedness among them.
  7. The human organism has systems for digestion, respiration, reproduction, circulation, excretion, movement, control and coordination, and for protection from disease.
  8. These systems interact with one another.
  9. Groups of specialized cells cooperate to form a tissue, such as a muscle.
  10. Different tissues are grouped together to form larger functional units, called organs.
  11. Each type of cell, tissue, and organ has a distinct structure and set of functions that serve the organism as a whole.
  12. Each different organism has a life cycle that is different from other organisms Plants and animals may change in appearance a little or a lot as they grow.
  13. In many species, including humans, females produce eggs and males produce sperm, plants also reproduce sexually, the egg and sperm are produced in the flowers of flowering plants.
  14. An egg and sperm unite (fertilization) to begin development of a new individual.
  15. That new individual receives genetic information from its mother (via the egg) and its father (via the sperm).
  16. Sexually produced offspring never are identical to either of their parents.
  17. Many characteristics of an organism are inherited from the parents of the organism, but other characteristics result from an individual's interactions with the environment.
  18. Inherited characteristics include the color of flowers and the number of limbs of an animal.
  19. Other features, such as the ability to ride a bicycle, are learned through interactions with the environment and cannot be passes on to the next generation. This infers a way to transfer genetic information from one generation to another.

Microorganisms and disease Concepts

  1. Microorganisms can cause disease.
  2. Disease is essential to decompose organism.
  3. Decomposition is a way to recycle materials.
  4. Most microorganisms do not cause disease and many are beneficial.
  5. Disease is a breakdown in structures or functions of an organism.

 

Educator notes

 

Concepts Literate (11+)

Organisms , Behavior, Diversity, Adaptation, and Survival

  1. Organisms have been classifed into six kingdoms: Archaebacteria, Eubacteria, Protist, Fungi, Plant, and Animal.
  2. Organism may also be grouped as viral and nonviral life. With nonviral organisms classified into three or four groups
    1. eukaryote a cellular organism (one or more cells) with DNA in the form of chromosomes within a distinct nucleus (protists, plants, algae, fungi, & animals)
    2. bacteria, and
    3. archaea. Prokaryotes include bacteria, cyanobacteria, and archaea (archaebacteria). Prokaryotes have no nuclear membrane, no organelles in the cytoplasm except ribosomes, and has its genetic material in the form of single strand of coils or loops.
    4. Lokiarchaeota appears between archaean and ekaryotes.
  3. Phages are viruses that infect bacteria.
  4. Living systems and ecosystems at all levels of organization demonstrate the complementary nature of structure and function.
  5. Animals consume energy and plants use sunlight to make their food.
  6. Some organisms can not be easily classified as only a plant or animal.
  7. All organisms are composed of cells, the fundamental unit of life.
  8. Two-thirds of a cell is water.
  9. Most organisms are single cells; other organisms, including humans, are multicellular.
  10. Cells carry on the many functions needed to sustain life.
  11. Cells take in nutrients to provide energy for the work that cells do and to make the materials that a cell or an organism needs.
  12. Specialized cells perform specialized functions in multicellular organisms.
  13. An organism's behavior evolves through adaptation to its environment.
  14. How a species moves, obtains food, reproduces, and responds to danger are based in the species' evolutionary history.
  15. Millions of species of animals, plants, and microorganisms are alive today. Although different species might look different, the internal structures among organisms is similar, their chemical processes, and common ancestry. Biological evolution explains how the diversity of life and the uniqueness of each species' properties developed through a slow processes over many generations through biological adaptation, which involves the selection of naturally occurring variations in populations, which include changes in structures, behaviors, or physiology that enhance survival and reproduction success in a particular environment.
  16. Small differences can accumulate in successive generations so that descendants are very different from their ancestors. Individual organisms with certain traits are more likely to survive and reproduce. Changes in environment can affect the survival of individuals and entire species.
  17. 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.
  18. Organic means related to living or from derived from living matter. Organic compounds always have carbon (most inorganic compounds do not have carbon) and hydrogen or C-H bonds. Having carbon is not sufficient for a compound to be organic. Look for carbon and hydrogen. Examples: Sugar or sucrose (C12H22O11), benzene (C6H6), methane (CH4), ethanol or grain alcohol (C2H6O). See chemistry

Reproduction, Life Cycle, and Heredity

  1. A species includes all organisms that can mate with one another to produce sexually fertile offspring.
  2. Organisms are collections of cells.
  3. Cells grow and divide - thereby producing more cells.
  4. Reproduction is a characteristic of all living systems.
  5. No individual organism lives forever. Therefore, reproduction is essential to the continuation of every species.
  6. Some organisms reproduce asexually and other organisms reproduce sexually.
  7. Genetic characteristics are passed from only one parent (asexual) or two parents (sexual) reproduction.
  8. Every organism requires a set of instructions for specifying its traits.
  9. Heredity is the passage of these instruction from one generation to another.
  10. Heredity information is contained in genes, located in the chromosomes of each cell.
  11. Each gene carries a single unit of information.
  12. An inherited trait of an individual can be determined by one or by many genes, and a signal gene can influence more than one trait.
  13. A human cell contains many thousands of different genes.
  14. New varieties of plants and animals have been cultivated through selective breeding and gene splicing.

Microorganisms and disease

  1. Most microorganisms do not cause disease and many are beneficial.
  2. Disease is a breakdown in structures or functions of an organism.
  3. Some diseases are the result of intrinsic failures of the system.
  4. Others are the result of damage by infection of other organisms.
  5. Disease contagion variables
    • Type of organism
    • Method of infection
    • Organism's life cycle
    • Surveillane of health conditions
    • Number of cases in first wave of infection
    • Time between generations
    • Types of organisms infected of harbor disease
    • Detection ease, Time to confirm infection, availability of testing, ease of testing, similarity to other organisms and diseases, new disease or known disease
    • Availability of antibodies
    • Mortality rate
    • Percentage of fatal cases
    • Sanitary conditions, deforestation, urbaniztion, agriculture density, native species, availability of potable water
    • Availability of heath services. Medical clinics. Doctors, hospitals, health care,
    • Communication
    • Political, local, organization and trust of information, networking, leadership, and communication

 

Educator notes

 

Ecosystems

Ecosystems (Populations, Environmental factors, Environments,

  • Interdependent Relationships in their Environment & Ecosystems
  • Matter & Energy Flow, Transfer & Cycles
  • Dynamics, Functions, & Resilience
  • Social Interations & Group Behavior ( Interdependent Functions Relationships & Resilience

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)

Misconceptions (Explanations, Naive understanding, Misconceptions, or Perceptual responses)

  1. See misconceptions for animals and plants
  2. Resources are infinite.
  3. Plants and animals will always be on Earth because the life cycle will continue forever.
  4. Dirt and bugs are bad. They are not necessary for anything good.
  5. Everything can be recycled.

Populations

  1. A change in a food web will only affect animals that prey on it.
  2. An animal that is high on the food web preys on all populations below it.
  3. A change in the prey population has no affect on the predator.
  4. If the size of one population in a food web is changed, all other populations in the web are changed in the same way.
  5. A food web is a food chain
  6. Animals are carnivores if they are big and ferocious. Herbivores are small and timid.
  7. Don't add plants to the web only prey and predator.
  8. See the top of the web as having the most energy. Or energy accumulates at the top.
  9. Populations on the top increase as the organisms below decrease.
  10. Characteristics of a population are created according to the needs of the individual or according to a predetermined grand plan.
  11. Characteristics are passed on by the bigger stronger organisms.
  12. Populations are either in equilibrium or decreasing depending on their position in the web.
  13. The needs and roles of a species are the same as those of similar species.
  14. Species live together in an ecosystem because they have compatible needs and behaviors.
  15. Plants rely on carbon dioxide from animals.
  16. Do not understand that animals energy comes from the sun.
  17. Deserts are dead waste lands where nothing could live or thrive.

 

Educator notes

 

Concepts Beginning (preschool - 7 years)

Environmental

  1. All animals depend on plants. Some animals eat plants for food.
  2. Other animals eat animals that eat the plants.
  3. Living organisms are found almost everywhere in the world.
  4. They are somewhat different in different parts of the world.
  5. Many materials can be recycled and used again.

Populations

  1. A population consists of all individuals of a species that occur together at a given place and time

 

Educator notes

 

Concepts Intermediate (7 years - 11 years)

Environmental

  1. The world has many different environments, and distinct environments support the life of different types of organisms.
  2. Some organisms will survive better in different parts of the world and some will not.
  3. An organism's patterns of behavior are related to the nature of that organism's environment, including the kinds and numbers of other organisms present, the availability of food and resources, and the physical characteristics of the environment.
  4. When the environment changes, some plants and animals survive and reproduce, and others die or move into new locations. Organisms interact with other organisms in addition to providing food (seed dispersal, plant pollination, lichens).

Populations

  1. Populations of organisms can be categorized by the function they serve in a community (producer and consumer).
  2. Plants and some microorganisms are producers- they make their own food. All animals, including humans, are consumers, which obtain food by eating other organisms.
  3. The population of an ecosystem depends on the resources available and abiotic factors, such as quantity of light and water, range of temperatures, and soil composition.
  4. Given adequate biotic and abiotic and no disease of predators, populations (including humans) increase at rapid rates.
  5. Lack of resources and other factors, such as predation and climate, limit the growth of a population in specific niches in the ecosystem.
  6. Relationships may be competitive or mutually beneficial.
  7. Some species have adapted to each other to the point that they could not survive without each other.

 

Educator notes

 

Concepts Literate (11+)

Environmental

  1. All organisms cause changes in the environment where they live.
  2. Some of these changes are detrimental to the organism or other organisms, and others are beneficial.
  3. Humans depend on their natural and constructed environments.
  4. Humans change environments in ways that can be either beneficial or detrimental for themselves and other organisms. In all environments organisms compete with each other for resources, including food, space, water, air, and shelter in order to survive.
  5. Over time matter is transferred from one organism to another repeatedly and between organisms and their environment. This total amount of matter remains the constant even though its form and location change. Energy can be change from one form to another in living organisms (energy from oxidizing food).
  6. Food webs identify the relationships among producers, consumers, and decomposers in an ecosystem.
  7. An ecosystem includes all populations living together and the physical environmental factors with which they interact.
  8. For ecosystems, the major source of energy is sunlight which is transferred by producers into chemical energy through photosynthesis.
  9. That energy then passes from organism to organism in food webs.
  10. Decomposers, primarily bacteria and fungi, are consumers that use waste materials and dead organisms for food.
  11. In the process of decomposing organic matter they create nutrients for plants.

Populations

  1. Food chains identify the relationships among producers and consumers.
  2. Food cycle includes producers, consumers, and decomposers.

 

Educator notes

See - Environmental health variables and human impacts

  1. Plant and animal populations outgrow environmental resources and become endangered or extinct.
  2. Human population grow greater than natural resources and require human intervention. (Anthropocene era)
  3. Agriculture replaces natural ecosystems.
  4. Freshwater is decreasing faster than it's being replentished.
  5. Nitrogen and phosphorus cycles are altered with farming and fertilizers.
  6. Ocean fish are being harvested faster than they are able to be replentished.
  7. Acidity of ocean and acid rain is increasing.
  8. Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing and climate change resulting from the greenhouse effect.
  9. Climate change

 

 

Heredity & Evolution

Heredity

  • Inheritance of Traits
  • Variation of Traits

Evolution

  • Evidence of Common Ancestry (Unity) & Diversity
  • Natural Selection
  • Adaptations
  • Biodiversity and Humans

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)

Misconceptions (Explanations, Naive understanding, Misconceptions, or Perceptual responses)

  1. See misconceptions for animals and plants

 

Educator notes

 

Concepts Beginning (preschool - 7 years)

Heredity

Evolution

  1. Evolution is driven by reproductive multiplication, variation by mutation, and recombination, adaptation with selection, proliferations of healthy functioning descendants.

Educator notes

 

Concepts Intermediate (7 years - 11 years)

Heredity

Evolution

 

Educator notes

 

Concepts Literate (11+)

Heredity

Evolution

 

Educator notes

  1. NOTCH gene family controls the timing of development in everyting from fruit flies to whales. In human brain evolution NOTCH2 and NOTCH2NL are thought to have an important role in brain development.

 

Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
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