selection because they fail to make a conceptual connection between the occurrence of new variations in a population and the potential effect of those variations on the long-term survival of the species. One misconception that teachers may encounter involves students attributing new variations

Many misconceptions about the process of natural selection can be changed through instruction.

to an organism's need, environmental conditions, or use. With some help, students can understand that, in general, mutations occur randomly and are selected because they help some organisms survive and produce more offspring. Other misconceptions center on a lack of understanding of how a population changes as a result of differential reproduction (some individuals producing more offspring), as opposed to all individuals in a population changing. Many misconceptions about the process of natural selection can be changed through instruction.

Guide to the Content Standard

Fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include


[See Unifying Concepts and Processes]

  • Cells have particular structures that underlie their functions. Every cell is surrounded by a membrane that separates it from the outside world. Inside the cell is a concentrated mixture of thousands of different molecules which form a variety of specialized structures that carry out such cell functions as energy production, transport of molecules, waste disposal, synthesis of new molecules, and the storage of genetic material.

  • Most cell functions involve chemical reactions. Food molecules taken into cells react to provide the chemical constituents needed to synthesize other molecules. Both breakdown and synthesis are made possible by a large set of protein catalysts, called enzymes. The breakdown of some of the food molecules enables the cell to store energy in specific chemicals that are used to carry out the many functions of the cell.

  • Cells store and use information to guide their functions. The genetic information stored in DNA is used to direct the synthesis of the thousands of proteins that each cell requires.

  • Cell functions are regulated. Regulation occurs both through changes in the activity of the functions performed by proteins and through the selective expression of individual genes. This regulation allows cells to respond to their environment and to control and coordinate cell growth and division.

  • Plant cells contain chloroplasts, the site of photosynthesis. Plants and many microorganisms use solar energy to combine molecules of carbon dioxide and water into complex, energy rich organic compounds and release oxygen to the environment. This process of photosynthesis provides a vital connection between the sun and the energy needs of living systems.

  • Cells can differentiate, and complex multicellular organisms are formed as a highly organized arrangement of differentiated cells. In the development of

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