light only at wavelengths corresponding to these amounts. These wavelengths can be used to identify the substance.

  • In some materials, such as metals, electrons flow easily, whereas in insulating materials such as glass they can hardly flow at all. Semiconducting materials have intermediate behavior. At low temperatures some materials become superconductors and offer no resistance to the flow of electrons.

Life Science

Content Standard C

As a result of their activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop understanding of

  • The cell

  • Molecular basis of heredity

  • Biological evolution

  • Interdependence of organisms

  • Matter, energy, and organization in living systems

  • Behavior of organisms

Developing Student Understanding

Students in grades K-8 should have developed a foundational understanding of life sciences. In grades 9-12, students' understanding of biology will expand by incorporating more abstract knowledge, such as the structure and function of DNA, and more comprehensive theories, such as evolution. Students' understandings should encompass scales that are both smaller, for example, molecules, and larger, for example, the biosphere.

Teachers of science will have to make choices about what to teach that will most productively develop student understanding of the life sciences. All too often, the criteria for selection are not clear, resulting in an overemphasis on information and an underemphasis on conceptual understanding. In describing the content for life sciences, the national standards focus on a small number of general principles that can serve as the basis for teachers and students to develop further understanding of biology.

Because molecular biology will continue into the twenty-first century as a major frontier of science, students should understand the chemical basis of life not only for its own sake, but because of the need to take informed positions on some of the practical and ethical implications of humankind's capacity to manipulate living organisms.

In general, students recognize the idea of species as a basis for classifying organisms, but few students will refer to the genetic basis of species. Students may exhibit a general understanding of classification. However, when presented with unique organisms, students sometimes appeal to "everyday" classifications, such as viewing jellyfish as fish because of the term "fish," and penguins as amphibians because they live on land and in water.

Although students may indicate that they know about cells, they may say that living systems are made of cells but not molecules, because students often associate molecules only with physical science.

Students have difficulty with the fundamental concepts of evolution. For example, students often do not understand natural

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