Forums / Life Science / Characteristics of Life - Summative Assessment

Life Science

Characteristics of Life - Summative Assessment

Author Post
Kathryn Kennedy Kathryn Kennedy 9055 Points

Hi all -

My students are just finishing up our quick unit on how life is defined (homeostasis, reproduction, growth and development, etc) and I'm having some trouble putting together a summative assessment for their unit. This summative assessment needs to be able to meet at least one strand under MYP IB criterion C (knowledge and understanding of science). The three strands are:
1. recall scientific knowledge and use scientific understanding to construct scientific explanations.
2. apply scientific knowledge and understanding to solve problems set in familiar and unfamiliar situations.
3. critically analyse and evaluate information to make judgments supported by scientific understanding.
My idea so far is this. There is a short video about a projection called Axolotl . I would like them to critically analyse the projection and then create a method in order to evaluate whether the Axolotl is living or non-living. Therefore, I'm planning on using strand three for this activity. Are there any other thoughts on a project for them to do? Has anybody done something similar, but with a better twist? Something way different?
I remember finding a resource about cars and whether they are alive or not, but can't seem to find it.
Thanks in advance!

Kara Kitamura Kara Kitamura 360 Points

I have had the same problem and the only thing I could find online was a rubric for writing assignment that asks " How do scientist tell if something is living?". It wasn't much but it kind of inspired me a little. I think that providing examples of living organisms doing specific activities that show a characteristic of life and having them explain how they know they are living would be a start.

Kathryn Kennedy Kathryn Kennedy 9055 Points

Hi Kara - Thanks for your thoughts! I had had a similar idea as well, but didn't think that it would satisfy the third criterion (critically analyse and evaluate information to make judgments supported by scientific understanding). I was going to have students work in groups to study a type of life (lichen, coral, algae, mildew, bacteria, etc) that they had encountered during their 'what is life' word sort but really don't think that this is an activity that would be able to be assessed using that third criterion. It seems as though students are just reading and recalling knowledge about the characteristics instead of creating a judgment based on their knowledge. Do you teach at an IB school? What other summative assessments have you created for Biology? Cheers! Kathryn

Katherine Willet Katherine Zimmerman 21310 Points

I used NSTA resources from the Earth/Space area. There is a great lesson designed to teach students about the Hubble and Kepler missions. I used those lessons to introduce my students to current research going on. I then had the students choose on of the 15 Kepler planets and research that planet. They had create a presentation to a board of why that planet should be investigated to be the next earth. They had to use the characteristics of life to defend why they chose that planet to research. I can upload the resources if people are interested.

Kathryn Kennedy Kathryn Kennedy 9055 Points

Hi Katherine - Thank you so much for posting your ideas! I would love to look over your resources if you don't mind sharing them. The project sounds perfect for what I want my students to be able to do. Cheers! Kathryn

Katherine Willet Katherine Zimmerman 21310 Points

Kathryn, Here is what I used with my students. It has been a great project. Let me know if you have other questions. Katie

Kathryn Kennedy Kathryn Kennedy 9055 Points

Hi Katie - THANK YOU so much for sharing those resources. I'm going to review them tonight and see how I can tailor it to my class. If I create something way different, I'll post it here so you can take a look. Thanks again! Kathryn

Sarah Horan Sarah Horan 2255 Points

I also use the astrobiology lessons from NASA to teach the concept of life. I also teach about pseudoscience and tabloids. ( Then my students write a "scientific" article about an alien that they have created. Their alien must have all the characteristics of life.

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92186 Points

Hi Sarah and welcome to the discussion forums! I loved your link for the pdf on pseudoscience and skeptical thinking: What's the story?. I love how when you click on the active link the pdf automatically downloads onto my computer.
With more and more emphasis being placed on our students' critical thinking skills, this activity would be a great way to introduce terms like theory, bias, experimental design, etc. Thanks for sharing!
Katherine, I loved your resources, too. Thanks. I wonder what our newest probe, Curiosity, will discover when it finally lands on Mars?

Kathryn Kennedy Kathryn Kennedy 9055 Points

Hi all -

Thank you again for all of the wonderful resources! I actually did something a little different; I showed a video of an Axolotl and told the students that they need to write up a method that would allow a group of scientists to determine whether the object is living or not. I like it for this year, but ultimately want to do a project related to what Katherine posted. I'm sharing my description if anybody is curious to see it. If you have any suggestions for this project let me know. I love getting feedback from actual science teachers. (^^)



Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers