Sophomore / STEAM / Global Health

What underlies the diversity of life, where our ancestors come from and how we became the human beings we are now? How can we quantify and measure change? With the tools of logic, statistics, and exponential growth, you will study diverse populations and represent them as a unit. Throughout this course, you will discover how people connect with local and global populations; explore how and why populations have changed throughout history; and forecast what this means for our future.

Course Units

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Where do we fit in?

In this unit, you will investigate what/who is included and excluded from a population. In the Internal Investigation, you will study both Mathematical and Scientific systems of classification, learning what criteria are used to tell two beings apart and conversely, how to group them. Then, in the External Investigation, you will observe organisms both from the inside and the outside, through dissections and a visit to a local zoo, and you will create your own classification system. Lastly, in the Action Project, you will design an art piece to display the entire taxonomy of an organism.

Here are the unit sub guiding questions you will pursue:

  • What benefits come from a universal language for classification?
  • How do we see classification in nature?
  • How can you speak the language of scientists who classify?
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How do we survive?

Nothing in biology makes sense, except in light of evolution.
—Theodosius Dobzhansky

As we learned in Unit 1, life is diverse and variation is plentiful; but what explains the diversity we see? In other words, how do organisms get to be so diverse? Is there a hierarchy of diversity? Are some organisms more fit than others?

Unit 2 is a journey into where we are from and where we are going. The unit will introduce Darwin and his theories on Natural Selection as a mechanism for evolution. We will examine the evidence for Evolution and come to understand how changes are selected. Included in selection is inheritance, so at the end of the unit, you will be able to describe the central Dogma of Biology, or “DNA to RNA to Protein.”

Another purpose of this unit is to look at a typical population and describe it in a numerical and graphical way so that in the next unit we will be able to see what happens when multiple populations interact. We will also look at how and why the human population has changed throughout history, effectively telling a story of our species.

Here are the unit sub guiding questions you will pursue:

  • Where do we come from and how did we get here?
  • How can we quantify the status of a species?
  • How can we portray the evolution of a species?/ul>
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How do we impact each other?

…I say, that the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio…This implies a strong and constantly operating check on population from the difficulty of subsistence. This difficulty must fall somewhere and must necessarily be severely felt by a large portion of mankind.
—Thomas Malthus, An Essay On the Principle of Population

Populations are not isolated systems. They impact each other and the environment in both favorable and unfavorable ways. This unit provides a context for our understanding of a population, through studying interactions between populations and the environment. We will calculate arithmetic and geometric sequences, look at predator-prey interactions, and discuss the long term effects of human population growth on communities and landscapes.

Today, our population is increasing in unprecedented numbers, yet the resources are not distributed equally. The growing population puts strain on our resources, and thus, the policies that get implemented and should be dependent on projected demographic trends.

Here are the unit sub guiding questions you will pursue:

  • How do populations grow, change, and survive?
  • How do populations coexist? Or do they?
  • Where do we go from here?
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