Middle School Life Science Course Overview

Time4Learning offers an online, interactive middle school science curriculum that can be used for homeschool, afterschool, and summer education. At the middle school level, science is organized into courses that cover materials typically offered at the sixth to eighth grade level, although parents can register students in fourth grade and above as part of membership.

Life Science is one of three standards-based science courses offered at the middle school level. It uses a combination of instructional videos, printable worksheets, writing exercises, tests, quizzes, and both online and offline projects to teach earth and space science. Students also gain access to ‘Nature of Science,’ which is a supplemental course recommended for use alongside the middle school science materials.

**This course contains sensitive materials pertaining to evolution and reproduction, so it is strongly recommended that parents review the content before registering their students. (Please note that chapters and lessons can be skipped.)

Chapter 1 – Introduction to Living Things

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover the introduction to living things. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of characteristics of living things, life cycles, stimuli and behavior, and homeostasis of organisms and feedback.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Characteristics of living things – Students are taught how to tell the difference between living and nonliving things based on characteristics common to living things, including growth and development, reproduction, cellular organization, use of energy, exchange of gases, and response to the environment.
  • Life cycles – Students will learn how to distinguish between the different life cycles of various organisms, including complete and incomplete metamorphosis and human life cycles.
    Stimuli and behavior – Students must learn to predict how an organism will change its behavior given an external stimulus.
  • Homeostasis of organisms and feedback – Students are taught to predict how an organism’s internal environment will respond given a stimulus.

Chapter 2 – Cells

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover the basics of cells. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of cell theory, prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, cell structures, plant and animal cells, photosynthesis, cellular respiration, homeostasis of cells.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Cell theory – Students will learn how to explain the components of the scientific theory of cells: all organisms are composed of cells, all cells come from pre-existing cells, and cells are the basic unit of life.
  • Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells – Students must learn to describe the structure and function of the nucleus and distinguish between a prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell.
  • Cell structures – Students are taught how to describe the structure and function of cell membranes, cytoplasm, and mitochondria.
  • Plant and animal cells – Students will learn how to describe the structure and function of cell walls, vacuoles, and chloroplasts, and distinguish between plant and animal cells.
  • Photosynthesis – Students must learn how to explain how light energy is transferred to chemical energy through the process of photosynthesis.
  • Cellular respiration – Students are taught how to describe and investigate how aerobic and anaerobic cellular respiration breaks down food to provide energy and releases carbon dioxide.
  • Homeostasis of cells – Students will learn to explain how cells of all organisms undergo similar processes to maintain homeostasis, including extracting energy from food, getting rid of waste, and reproduction.

Chapter 3 – Unicellular and Multicellular Organisms

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover the unicellular and multicellular organisms. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of cells and organisms, unicellular organisms, and multicellular organisms.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Cells and organisms – Students are taught how to compare life processes at the organism level with life processes at the cellular level.
  • Unicellular organisms – Students will learn how to identify unicellular organisms, including bacteria and protists, by their methods of locomotion, reproduction, ingestion, excretion, and effects on other organisms.
  • Multicellular organisms – Students must learn how to compare and contrast unicellular and multicellular organisms.

Chapter 4 – Ecology

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover ecology. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of Earth’s biomes, biodiversity, ecosystems, biotic and abiotic factors, habitats and niches, and relationships between organisms.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Earth’s biomes – Students are taught how to describe characteristics of Earth’s major terrestrial and aquatic biomes.
  • Biodiversity – Students will learn how to describe the importance of biodiversity and major threats to biodiversity.
  • Ecosystems – Students must learn how to distinguish between the biosphere, ecosystems, communities, populations, and organisms.
  • Biotic and abiotic factors – Students are taught how to tell the difference between biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem.
  • Habitats and niches – Students will learn how to differentiate between habitats and niches.
  • Relationships between organisms – Students must learn how to compare and contrast the relationships among organisms such as mutualism, predation, parasitism, competition, and commensalism.

Chapter 5 – Population Ecology

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover population ecology. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of limiting factors in an ecosystem, population interactions, producers and photosynthesis, consumers, decomposers, energy in ecosystems, matter in ecosystems, and ecological succession.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Limiting factors in an ecosystem- Students are taught how to identify and describe the effects of limiting factors on a given population and evaluate the carrying capacity of an ecosystem.
  • Population interactions – Students will learn how to predict the impact of changes in a species’ population on an ecosystem.
  • Producers and photosynthesis – Students must learn to describe how radiant energy from the Sun drives much of the flow of energy throughout living systems due to the process of photosynthesis in organisms described as producers.
  • Consumers – Students are taught how to tell the difference between consumers and other organisms.
  • Decomposers – Students will learn how to tell the difference between decomposers and other organisms.
  • Energy in ecosystems – Students are taught how to analyze the flow of energy through an ecosystem by creating food webs, food chains, and energy pyramids.
  • Matter in ecosystems – Students will learn how to diagram the flow of matter through ecosystems, including the carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle, and exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide with the atmosphere.
  • Ecological succession – Students must learn how to define ecological succession and sequence the process of succession in a given ecosystem.

Chapter 6 – Genetics

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover the basics of genetics. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of sexual and asexual reproduction, heredity, genes, and chromosomes, mitosis, meiosis, genotypes and phenotypes, predicting inheritance, genetic disorders, DNA, and selective breeding.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Sexual and asexual reproduction – Students must learn how to compare and contrast asexual and sexual reproduction.
  • Heredity, genes, and chromosomes – Students are taught to define heredity and explain the role of genes and chromosomes in the process of inheriting a specific trait.
  • Mitosis – Students will learn to describe how cells divide to increase their numbers through the process of mitosis, and sequence the steps of mitosis.
  • Meiosis – Students must learn how to contrast the processes of mitosis and meiosis in relation to growth, repair, reproduction, and heredity.
  • Genotypes and phenotypes – Students are taught how to identify the phenotype of an organism based on its genotype.
  • Predicting inheritance – Students will learn how to use a monohybrid Punnett square to predict the probability of traits passed from parents to offspring.
  • Genetic disorders – Students must learn how to tell the difference between genetic disorders due to errors in meiosis and those due to combinations of genes from each parent.
  • DNA – Students are taught how to compare and contrast DNA and RNA.
  • Selective breeding – Students will learn to describe how organisms can be selectively bred for particular traits.

Chapter 7 – Evolution

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover evolution. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of evolution and diversity, mutation and variation, adaptation, natural selection, evidence for evolution, evolutionary trees, and extinction.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Evolution and diversity – Students will learn how to describe how organisms can change over time in response to environmental factors.
  • Mutation and variation – Students are taught how to describe how mutation causes variation in a population, and how species vary based on factors such as climate, changing landforms, interspecies interaction, and genetic mutation.
  • Adaptation – Students must learn to tell the difference between physical and behavioral adaptations in a variety of organisms.
  • Natural selection – Students are taught how to explain how reproductive success coupled with advantageous traits over many generations contributes to natural selection.
  • Evidence for evolution – Students will learn to describe how fossil evidence and comparative anatomy provide evidence for evolution.
  • Evolutionary trees – Students must learn how to construct a simple branching diagram to classify living groups of organisms by shared derived characteristics and expand the diagram to include fossil organisms.
  • Extinction – Students are taught how to explain why the extinction of a species may occur when the environment changes.

Chapter 8 – Classification

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover the topic of classification. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of domains and kingdoms, classification of life, and dichotomous keys.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Domains and kingdoms – Students are taught how to describe how living things are classified into domains and kingdoms.
  • Classification of life – Students will learn how to analyze how organisms can be classified by family, genus, and species.
  • Dichotomous keys – Students must learn how to classify an organism based on its physical characteristics using a dichotomous key.

Chapter 9 – Organs and Organ Systems

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover organs and organ systems. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of levels of organization in living things, integumentary system, skeletal and muscular systems, circulatory system, respiratory system, digestive system, excretory system, nervous system, endocrine system, reproductive systems, and disease and the immune system.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Levels of organization in living things – Students are taught how to tell the difference between cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems.
  • Integumentary system – Students will learn how to relate the structure and function of the integumentary system.
  • Skeletal and muscular systems – Students must learn to relate the structure and function of the skeletal
    and muscular systems.
  • Circulatory system – Students are taught how to relate the structure and function of the circulatory system.
  • Respiratory system – Students learn how to relate the structure and function of the respiratory system.
  • Digestive system – Students must learn how to relate the structure and function of the digestive system.
  • Excretory system – Students are taught how to relate the structure and function of the excretory system.
  • Nervous system – Students will learn how to relate the structure and function of the nervous system.
  • Endocrine system – Students are taught how to relate the structure and function of the endocrine system.
  • Reproductive systems – Students must learn how to relate the structure and function of the reproductive system.
  • Disease and the immune system – Students will learn how to relate the structure and function of the immune system.

Chapter 10 – Human Health

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover the topic of human health. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concept of staying healthy.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Staying healthy – Students are taught how to tell the difference between communicable and noncommunicable diseases, and describe factors that affect the length and quality of human life.

Chapter 11 – Plants

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover the topic of plants. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of plant structures and plant reproduction.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Plant structures – Students will learn how to relate the structure and function of leaves, stems, and roots.
  • Plant reproduction – Students must learn to describe how flowering plants reproduce and how tropism effects the growth of seedlings.

The Time4Learning Program Structure

Time4Learning has been refined through years of feedback from educators, parents, and students. Subjects are organized into chapters composed of interactive lessons, printable worksheets, quizzes and tests. Students are guided through the activities at their own pace by an automated system.

When students log in, they choose a subject, select a chapter, pick a lesson and complete the activities. A bright green arrow tells them where they left off, and completed work is clearly labeled with a check-mark or a gold star. Visual and auditory prompts guide students through the lessons, making it easy for even young learners to follow, and an online playground (controlled by parents) rewards and motivates them to finish their lessons.

Parents get access to printable lesson plans, teaching tools, detailed reporting and parental support through our online Parent Forum.

Does your child have different achievement levels for math and language arts? No problem! Time4Learning lets you set each individual subject at the appropriate graded level, making this program great for special needs and gifted students.

Curriculum Structure

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