NGSS LS4.B LS4.C: Natural Selection Adaptations Selective Breeding 5E

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If you are teaching NGSS Performance Expectations LS4.B and LS4.C: Natural Selection and Adaptations, this resource is perfect for you! Students first use their background knowledge and attempt to answer the following questions that are the NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas reworded as questions: Evolution is the process of living organisms changing, developing and diversifying from earlier forms during the history of the earth. Why do you think organisms or species change over time? And Humans have the ability to influence certain characteristics of organisms by selective breeding, this is called Artificial selection. Humans can choose desired parental traits determined by genes, which are then passed on to offspring. Do you think humans should do this? Why or why not? This is a great exercise in met-cognition for the last questions in the Evaluate section of the 5E. (10 minutes)

Take a look at what each “E” of the 5E involves:

Engage: Phenomena! I show slides from the editable PowerPoint of some engaging photos of unique organisms with fascinating evolutionary traits and students write down why they think those organisms have those crazy traits. (15-20 minutes)

Explain: Amoeba Sisters! Students watch an engaging Amoeba Sisters video and fill in cloze notes that accompanies it. We the do a popcorn reading with the Close Reading provided. After this, students are able to answer the Disciplinary Core Idea “How do environmental changes affect how species change?” (MS-LS4-6). (30 minutes)

Explore: Bird Beak Lab! Students perform this engaging hands-on lab that models how different adaptions favor some individuals and harm others. This lab models the Performance Expectation MS-LS4-4 Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment. Then students do the Science and Engineering Practice of Analyzing and Interpreting Data, by graphing the data collected. (20-30 minutes)

Explain 2: CER! With that data, students are able to then do the Science and Engineering Practice of Engaging in Argument from Evidence by filling in a Claim Evidence Reason (CER) graphic organizer using the data they collected in the Bird Beak Lab. (20 minutes)

Elaborate: Argumentative Essay! Students read an article called Advantages & Disadvantages of Selective Breeding” and fill in another graphic organizer that helps them formulate the stance of whether humans should engage in selective breeding or not, in the form of a paragraph. (30-40 minutes)

Evaluate: Assess! Students revisit their background knowledge and write new and improved answers from the beginning of the activity. The questions in the “Evaluate” section are the NGSS Performance Expectations and Disciplinary Core Ideas rewarded as questions. (15-20 minutes)

This resource is approximately one week.

This product Includes the following:

-Student Handout

-Editable PowerPoint for classroom management, teacher pacing and student instructions

-Article and Graphic Organizer for Argumentative Essay on Selective Breeding

-Close Reading

-Editable Key

-Detailed Teacher Notes and Student Examples

This resource has the following NGSS Standards:

NGSS Performance Expectations (PE):

MS-LS4-4. Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.

MS-LS4-5. Gather and synthesize information about the technologies that have changed the way humans influence the inheritance of desired traits in organisms.

MS-LS4-6. Use mathematical representations to support explanations of how natural selection may lead to increases and decreases of specific traits in populations over time.

NGSS Disciplinary Core Ides (DCI):

LS4.B: Natural Selection: Natural selection leads to the predominance of certain traits in a population, and the suppression of others. (MS-LS4-4). In artificial selection, humans have the capacity to influence certain characteristics of organisms by selective breeding. One can choose desired parental traits determined by genes, which are then passed on to offspring. (MS-LS4-5)

LS4.C: Adaptation: Adaptation by natural selection acting over generations is one important process by which species change over time in response to changes in environmental conditions. Traits that support successful survival and reproduction in the new environment become more common; those that do not become less common. Thus, the distribution of traits in a population changes. (MS-LS4-6)

NGSS Cross Cutting Concepts (CCC)

Structure and Function: Complex and microscopic structures and systems can be visualized, modeled, and used to describe how their function depends on the shapes, composition, and relationships among its parts; therefore, complex natural and designed structures/systems can be analyzed to determine how they function. (MS-LS3-1)

Patterns: Patterns can be used to identify cause and effect relationships. (MS-LS4-2). Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data. (MS-LS4-1), (MS-LS4-3)

Cause and Effect: Phenomena may have more than one cause, and some cause and effect relationships in systems can only be described using probability. (MS-LS4-4),(MS-LS4-5), (MS-LS4-6)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices: Developing and Using Models: Develop and use a model to describe phenomena. (MS-LS3-1)

Analyzing and Interpreting Data: Analyzing data in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to extending quantitative analysis to investigations, distinguishing between correlation and causation, and basic statistical techniques of data and error analysis. Analyze displays of data to identify linear and nonlinear relationships. (MS-LS4-3). Analyze and interpret data to determine similarities and differences in findings. (MS-LS4-1)

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking: Mathematical and computational thinking in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to identifying patterns in large data sets and using mathematical concepts to support explanations and arguments. Use mathematical representations to support scientific conclusions and design solutions. (MS-LS4-6)

Engaging in Argument from Evidence: Construct an oral and written argument supported by empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support or refute an explanation or a model for a phenomenon or a solution to a problem. (MS-ESS3-4)

This resource has the following concepts:

Natural Selection


Genetic Variation

Inheritance of Traits

Selective Breeding

Artificial Selection

Negative Mutation

Positive Mutations


Biotic and Abiotic factors



Predators and Prey

Structure and Function


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Total Pages
55 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
1 Week
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).


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