General Biology Series 2 of 4: Cells, Genetics, and Evolution

General Biology Series 2 of 4: Cells, Genetics, and Evolution


About this course

This is the second class in a series of four that will cover a full year of upper middle school (Level 1) or high school (Level 2) biology and is only offered in September each year. While it is not required, it is highly recommended that you take these classes in order, as later series refer back to information we’ve learned in earlier series. The other courses are as follows:
General Biology: Series 1 of 4- Chemistry and Ecology
General Biology: Series 3 of 4- The Kingdoms of Life
General Biology: Series 4 of 4- Human Anatomy


Recommended Ages: 12-17

Start Date: September 29. Class runs for 12 weeks.  Due to holiday, students have three weeks after the last class is posted to complete the course. No live classes- do the lesson plans on YOUR schedule.

Price: $240

Space Available: This class is not currently open for enrollment. Enrollment will open again in June 2021. Please join our mailing list to be notified when enrollment opens. 

My degree is in Marine Biology (from Texas A&M University at Galveston), and I am truly a biologist at heart! I have a passion for this branch of science, and truly love sharing that passion with my students. And it’s my goal to make sure students come away with a deep understanding of the science of life. Because biology is not just a science, it is what we are! It is in us and around us and we are being it and interacting with it every second of our lives. I may be biased, but I truly feel that it is the most important branch of science students will ever learn. And I treat teaching it as a huge responsibility. This will be an academic, in-depth approach to biology. At the end of the course, students will have a firm understanding and working knowledge of all aspects of general biology. This foundation will serve them very well if they progress to an AP biology course in high school or for college biology. That said, it’s going to be engaging and a lot of fun as well!

Some of the things we’ll be covering will include:

1. Cells: What are the different types of cells (prokaryotic, eukaryotic)? What are the different organelles and their functions? How do materials enter and exit the cell (diffusion, osmosis, active transport)? What is the purpose of photosynthesis, and what are the chemical reactions that power it? How do cells turn food into energy? What are the processes of cellular respiration (glycolysis and the Krebs cycle)? How do cells grow and divide (the cell cycle- mitosis)?

2. Genetics: What are genes and alleles? How can you predict genetic traits (Punnett squares with F1 and F2  crosses)? How does meiosis play a role in genetics, and how does it differ from mitosis? What is DNA? How does DNA replicate? What is RNA and what is its role in protein synthesis? How do mutations occur, and are they all bad? In what ways can humans use genetic engineering to increase the probability of certain traits appearing in offspring? What are the processes and potential risks of this technology? What is the human genome, how do our genes play a role in inherited disorders, and what are the ethics involved in using genetic engineering on people?

3. Evolution: Using many real life examples to illustrate the topics, we will learn: What is Darwinian evolution? How do artificial selection and natural selection work? What is the role of genes in evolution? How do entirely new species evolve from other species? Where did life originate from? How has it evolved over billions of years? How does the studying the history of the earth reinforce the theory of evolution? What patterns can we find in evolution (adaptive radiation, convergent evolution, coevolution, punctuated equilibrium)?

LESSON PLANS: This is a 12 week class. Students have 2 weeks after the last class is posted to complete all work. Weekly lesson plans are posted on Tuesdays by 5pm Pacific Time. There is no “live” component to this class, which allows students to work at their own pace. This is a great option for busy students who need to work on their own schedule, and students who live all over the world and can’t easily coordinate time zones.

Lesson plans are a combination of power point, graphics, video, and audio. Each slide is fully narrated for students who prefer to hear material read to them. There is no textbook for this course.
OPTIONAL: I provide all of the curriculum needed for this course in the lesson plans. However, if you wish to use a textbook in junction with the course, pretty much any middle school/high school biology textbook will be covering the topics I am covering. I have taught live biology classes in the past, and used the following textbooks with great success. I never recommend getting the latest edition of any textbook. Save money by getting an older edition!
Level 1 Students: Glencoe Science: Biology- The Dynamics of Life
Level 2 Students: Prentice Hall: Biology- by Miller and Levine

DISCUSSION:We offer an “open talk” forum where students can have fun getting to know their classmates!

ASSIGNMENTS: This is a hands on class!! Each week, students get to choose from a list of exciting and fun hands on projects to let them really dig deep into topics in the lesson plan that interest them the most! The goal is to allow students to explore the topic while allowing their creativity to flow. We encourage out of the box thinking! Generally projects can be submitted in any format of the student’s choosing…written, presentation, poster, stop motion animation, minecraft, song, skit…we’ve seen it all!! Check out our facebook page for examples of student projects. All students receive instructor feedback on submitted work.

QUIZZES: Online quizzes are available each week as a tool for students to see how well they understand the material. Format is generally multiple choice, matching, true/false, and fill in the blank.

GRADES: All students will have access to our online learning system where they can view their lesson plan and assignments, take optional quizzes, access our discussion boards, submit assignments, and view instructor feedback on those assignments. You have the option of having your student’s assignments graded or not. In a given semester, you choose whether you want all or none of that student’s classes to receive grades (for example, if they are taking 3 classes, all 3 classes must be either graded or not graded). You can change the option the following semester. Graded students will be required to take the weekly quiz and will receive a number grade for their assignments in addition to feedback. They will also receive a final report card that you can print and keep for your records. Please note: All quizzes and some homework assignments that require an online “quiz” like entry will receive a grade.

TIME: In general, expect 2-4 hours to work through the lesson plan each week, and an additional 2-5 hours working on assignments (it really depends what assignment your child chooses to do and how they manage their time).

All labs are OPTIONAL (but highly recommended!), and I  provide a video or explanation for each lab for students who are unable to do the lab on their own.

I highly recommend a quality microscope for this class. We will use it in Sessions 2 and 3. If you do not have a microscope, it’s fine. I’ll be recording the microscope labs for the students. This is the one I use and love. It allows for live viewing on the computer screen and the ability to take pictures and videos. This is another that I see recommended by homeschool families often. Not as high of a magnification, but workable. If you have a serious biology kiddo, pay the money for the Omax. If not, go with the Amscope.

Week 5 (This is Week 5 of the overall course, but Week 1 of this session)
Lab 1

-2 slides and 2 coverslips
-2 Cotton Swabs

Lab 2
-300 ml of water
-Drinking glass or beaker
-Plastic sandwich bag (twist tie if it’s not ziplock)

Week 6

Week 7
Lab 1
-8 teaspoons of Yeast
-4 same sized narrow necked bottles that you can put a balloon on the neck of (plastic water bottles work well)
-4 balloons of the same size- blown up a couple of times to stretch them out
-5 teaspoons of sugar
-water and thermometer

Lab 2
-2 small clear containers
-way to measure 20ml of water
-2 straws
bromothymol blue

Week 8

-2 hard boiled eggs
-small container with 200 ml water
-20 drops of blue food coloring
-sharp knife or scalpel (ADULT SUPERVISION!)
-metric ruler that shows millimeters

Week 9

Week 10
-4 pieces of paper, preferably 4 different colors of construction paper
-Yarn or string that will lay flat and not curl up, about 2 meters long

Week 11


Week 12

Week 13

Week 14

Week 15

Week 16


Our course begins with the first step for generating great user experiences: understanding what people do, think, say, and feel. In this module, you’ll learn how to keep an open mind while learning.

Total numbers of students in course