Summer Research Program for Science Teachers

Trudy M. Prout

Norman Thomas High School, Manhattan



Observing and Recording Biological Data  

Living Environment Lesson Plan

Subject:  Science Grade 8-12

The following is a fun activity that fully aligns with the National Science Standards. The lesson will involve a school outing as well as usage of a video camera.


Aim:  How are living things similar to and different from each other and from nonliving things?


Background:  Living things are similar in that they rely on many of the same processes to stay alive, yet diverse in the ways that these processes and interactions are carried out.  Nonliving things however lack certain features of living organisms.  In this lesson, students will be utilizing their powers of observation and ability to collect scientific data as they gather evidence of life and non-life in a marine ecosystem. [9-12 Content Standard C- Matter, energy, and organization in living systems]


I.O. Students will be able to

1.       formulate a basic definition of life

2.     observe the eight characteristics of life (reproduction, nutrition, synthesis, etc) in living organisms

3.     compare and contrast characteristic of living and nonliving things



1.       field trip to the Aquarium [Teaching Standard D- Identify/use resources outside the school]

2.     students will be using a video camera to collect scientific data.



1.       digital video camera

2.     pen/pencil

3.     small data collection notebook

4.     teacher generated data collection sheet (optional)



1.       students will work in small groups (team work)

2.     each group will be given a specific research topic to investigate, i.e.; reproduction in fish

3.     Students will write their preliminary observations in their data collection notebook.  Here they can answer any questions the teacher may have for them

4.     each group will be given approximately 20 minutes each to explore the aquarium's sites to carry out the investigation.

5.     each group will record their observations on video and present their findings in an organized video presentation to the entire class. [Teaching Standard B- Orchestrate scientific discourse]



1.       After analyzing your own set of data as well as the data for the

     entire class, answer the following question: How are living things

     similar to each other as well as different from each other?


2.     How are living things different from nonliving things?


3.     What did you learn from your field trip experience?


4.     Present the results of your experiment in a visual form (diagram, chart, etc.)


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