Course title



AIM Chemistry H or Integrated Science with instructor’s approval

Course description

Course Description: This second-year science experience in the AIM Honors Program is an accelerated inquiry-based course that studies how life is organized into systems and cycles. Topics include: biological chemistry; life processes; cells; genetics; biotechnology; evolution and ecology. Scientific investigation and research skills are major components of this course. Students who earn below 70% will not be eligible to take the next level honors course.
Duration of Study: One semester 90 minutes/day. Approximately 40% of class time is dedicated to laboratory activities including student inquiry labs.
Course Outcomes:
•Design and conduct a scientific investigation.
•Analyze and communicate the findings of scientific investigations related to biology.
•Apply knowledge of biological principles to analyze problems and make decisions which impact themselves; society and the environment.
•Utilize technology and inquiry to increase understanding of biological concepts and issues.

Students will participate in a minimum of 11 scientific inquiries requiring formal laboratory write-ups (question/problem; hypothesis/prediction; data analysis; and conclusion). Additionally students will experience numerous activities including hands–on activities; paper simulations; and virtual labs. 16% of the course grade is determined by a performance assessment in which students design; conduct and communicate findings of a scientific inquiry.

Units with major topics and possible labs
1.Introduction to Scientific Inquiry – Lab Safety ; Inquiry Process – questioning; predicting; data analysis; conclusions; extension questions
Possible labs: Termite lab; Gummy Bear Lab; Pasteur’s Lab (minimum 1 lab)
2.Cells - macromolecules; osmosis/diffusion; organelle structure and function; Cell processes including respiration and photosynthesis
Possible labs: Osmosis/Diffusion Lab (potato; egg; agar); Homeostasis Enzyme Lab; Respiration Lab; Photosynthesis Lab; Metabolism Lab; (minimum 2 labs)
3.Molecular Genetics – mitosis; DNA replication; protein synthesis; mutations; biotechnology/genetic engineering
Possible Labs: Mitosis in Onion Root Tips; DNA Extraction; Electrophoresis (real or virtual)
4.Mendelian Genetics – Meiosis; probability; trait determination ( sex-linked; co-dominance; incomplete dominance; multiple alleles); genetic disorders
Possible Labs/Activities: Modeling Meiosis; Understanding Sex-Linked Traits; Modeling Point Mutations; Blood lab and Skittles Lab
5.Diversity of Species (Evolution) – components of evolution; evidence for evolutionary theory; Speciation; Classification (cladistics/phylogenetics)
Possible Labs/Activities: Adaptations for Floating; Natural Selection Lab; Speciation Computer simulations

6.Ecology (organisms and their interactions) - trophic levels –(energy flow); nutrient cycles; population dynamics; abiotic/biotic interactions; human interactions
Possible Labs/Activities: Bottle Biology; Isle Royal Simulation; Exponential Growth Lab; Modeling Exponential and Linear Population Growth

Sample Laboratory Activity: Osmosis and the Shipwrecked Sailor
Introduction - A shipwrecked sailor is stranded on a small desert island with no fresh water to drink; He knows he could last without food for up to a month; but if he didn’t have water to drink he would be dead within a week. Hoping to postpone the inevitable; his thirst drove him to drink the salty seawater. He was dead in two days. Why do you think drinking seawater killed the sailor faster than not drinking any water at all? Today we will explore the cause of the sailor’s death. We’ll prepare solutions of salt water to represent the seawater and we’ll use slices of potato to represent the sailor since both are composed of cells.
To determine the cause of the sailor’s death; we will determine the effects of salt water on slices of potato. The assumption is that potato cells will behave like the cells in the sailor’s body. We will compare saltwater to fresh water so we can see if there the cells react differently when water contains salt.
Problem: How does salt water affect potato cells?
Background Information: Student generated explanation of osmosis
Hypothesis: Student generated alternate hypotheses.
Materials: salt; ruler; plastic wrap; potato slices; stirring rod; forceps; 4 150 mL beakers; 100 mL graduated cylinder; tap water
1.Cut potato slices into 4 four equal pieces; 40 mm long. The goal is to end up with four potato pieces exactly the same size. Measurements must be precise. Carefully measure the length of each potato piece and record the initial measurements Data Table 1.
2.Label four beakers with group #; date and the following: 10% NaCl; 5% NaCl; 1% NaCl; 0% NaCl. Make 100 mL of the salt water solutions starting with the 10% salt solution (NaCl – sodium chloride) provided.
For a 10% salt solution; use 100 mL of the solution provided.
For a 5% salt solution; use mL of the stock solution plus mL of tap (fresh) water
For a 1% salt solution; use mL of the stock solution plus mL of tap (fresh) water
For 0% salt or fresh water; use mL tap (fresh) water
3.Place a slice of potato into each of the four beakers. Seal each beaker with plastic wrap and place them in the assigned area.
Day 2
4.Being careful not to mix up the potato pieces; measure them one at a time and record the observations in Data Table 1. Calculate the change in length and Indicate weather it was a positive or negative change.
Data Analysis: Create a graph that represents the experimental results and can be used to determine solutions that are isotonic; hypertonic; and hypotonic to the potato.
Conclusion: Write a conclusion indicating the experimental hypothesis and explaining the significance of the results. Connect the findings to the scientific concept of osmosis.
Analysis Questions:
1.What are the independent and dependent variables in this activity?
2.What is the purpose of testing fresh (tap) water?
3.Why was it important to cover the beakers with plastic wrap overnight?
4.What happened overnight to the potato slices?
5.What killed the sailor?
6.Why did the sailor die more quickly drinking salt water than not drinking at all?

School country

United States

School state


School city


School / district Address

6330 W. Thunderbird Rd.

School zip code


Date submitted



Approved competency code

  • LBIO
  • Biology

Approved date

Online / Virtual