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High School Biology Series 3 of 4: Kingdoms of Life

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This is part 3 of 4 in a full year (36 week) high school biology series, lasting 12 weeks.
This class is only offered once per year in the fall.

It is not required, but it is highly recommended that you take these classes in order. Later courses in the series refer back to information we learn in earlier courses.

Other classes in this series include:
General Biology: Series 1 of 4- Chemistry and Ecology
General Biology: Series 2 of 4- Cells, Genetics, and Evolution
General Biology: Series 4 of 4- Human Anatomy

This is one of the most advanced classes we offer at Next Level Homeschool, meant to be a comprehensive full year biology program for serious students. You will not find another online high school homeschool program that covers this much biology content. Students who complete the full year will be easily prepared to take AP or college biology. In fact, former students have told me they learned more in this class than their college biology!

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 will be covering will include:

1. Kingdoms Bacteria and Archaebacteria:
 What are the two main domains of bacteria and how do they differ? How do bacteria obtain energy, grow, and reproduce? Why is bacteria essential to all other lifeforms on earth? How do bacteria differ from viruses, and what are some of the diseases caused by both?

2. Kingdom Protista:
What makes protists the most argued about organisms in the taxonomic world? What are examples of animal like protists? Plant like protists? Fungus like protists? How do all of these different types obtain energy, grow, and reproduce? Why are protists important if you like ice cream? 🙂

3. Kindom Fungi:
 What are the unique characteristics of fungi? How do they obtain energy, grow, and reproduce? What are the different classifications of fungi? What are the benefits and hazards of fungi to other organisms? In other words, we’ll learn why you always wear flip flops in public showers!

4. Kingdom Plantae:
 We’ll spend a lot of time on this kingdom! What are the characteristics of plant cells that make them unique? What are the major groups of plants and how did they evolve (bryophytes, ferns, gymnosperms, angiosperms)? What was the evolutionary progression of each of these groups?What are the main structures of a plant and what is the function of each? What special tissues do vascular plants have an how do those tissues work together? How do the life cycles of various groups of plants work, and how do they differ from each other? What are the different types of hormones that control plant growth, and how do they work? How do plants respond to external stimuli? What are some of the adaptations plants have to thrive in their ecosystems?

5. Kingdom Animalia:
 We’ll go through each of the major phlya of animals, from sponges to mammals! For each phyla, we’ll learn what characteristics cause animals to be categorized into that group, what the anatomy of those animals are, how they obtain energy, grow, and reproduce. We’ll discuss how animals respond to stimuli, communicate, and behave. We’ll be dissecting many different species as well (dissections are always optional). As we work our way up to humans, we’ll discover how evolution played a role in the success of various animal species.

No live classesview lessons on YOUR schedule. In general, expect 1.5-2.5 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). For classes with two levels, the material is the same for boththe depth of the assignments differs. Younger students should usually be placed in Level 1. Older students, or younger students who want more of a challenge, should be placed in Level 2.

Each lesson consists of a fully narrated PowerPoint presentation with images and videos to enhance the topics. Students will have access to our learning management system, Canvas, for viewing their lesson, printing worksheets, taking quizzes, viewing/submitting assignments, participating in discussions, and viewing grades/feedback. Read more details about class format.

Week 17
We'll start at the very beginning- the bacterial kingdoms! We'll learn how bacteria are classified based on shape, gram stains, and oxygen requirements. We'll cover various reproductive strategies and then discuss the Germ Theory, bacterial and viral diseases, antibiotics, and vaccinations. 

Week 18
Kingdom Protista is often called the "trash can" kingdom, and we'll find out about the odd organisms- both microscopic and macroscopic- that call this Kingdom home! We'll discuss the different types of protists, how they are classified, reproductive strategies, and my personal spirit protist......SLIME MOLDS!!! 

Week 19
We'll have a lot of "fun" this week with Kindgom FUNgi! We'll discuss structure, reproductive strategies, evolution (you might be surprised to find out about this!), how they are classified, feeding mechanisms, and lovely things like toenail fungus. 🙂 

Week 20
We've worked our way up to the Kingdom Plantae! Settle in, because we'll be here for a while! We'll start our study with a discuss of plant evolution. We'll cover alteration of generations as a reproductive strategy, and then cover reproductive differences in bryophytes, ferns, gymnosperms, and angiosperms. 

Week 21
We'll focus on vascular plants this week, discussing the internal anatomy and external anatomy. We'll learn how water and nutrients move throughout the plant, and how growth happens. This will be a week full of new vocabulary that describes plant anatomy all the way down to the cellular level. 

Week 22
Now that we know all about how vascular plants work, we're going to figure out the differences between the vascular seedless plants (gymnosperms) and the vascular seed plants (angiosperms). We'll then hone in on the reproduction, hormones, and hormonal responses of angiosperms. We'll learn why some plants drop their leaves in the fall and other major adaptations of plants.

Week 23
We've covered 5 kingdoms in 6 weeks. And we're going to spend the last 8 weeks on the final kingdom- Animalia! We'll start with the basics- feeding, respiration, and reproductive strategies. We'll cover protostomes and deuterostomes and the developmental differences of each. Then we'll start our march through all of the major phyla of life, beginning with the sponges and cnidarians (jellyfish, coral, and anemones)- covering anatomy, feeding mechanisms, and reproductive strategies of each.

Week 24
We'll cover the major worm phyla and their characteristics, and then end with mollusks (snails, clams, and cephalopods). 

Week 25
We'll cover the characteristics of arthropods (insects, spiders, crabs, etc...) and echinoderms (sea stars, urchins, etc....).

Week 26
Our last phylum, Phylum Chordata! And we'll be spending the remaining 5 weeks discussing each major class! First we have to figure out what characteristics all chordates share. We'll discuss the transitional Hemichordates, then move into fish. We'll see how their distinct characteristics evolved over time, and cover anatomy, reproduction, locomotion, respiration, excretion, and feeding characteristics in detail. 

Week 27
From fish, we see the evolution of lungs and the first amphibians. We'll talk about the unique characteristics that separate them from reptiles, and one of the most important evolutionary adaptations to ever evolve- the amniotic egg- that allowed life to move from the water to the land. 

Week 28
We'll take to the skies for our study on birds this week! We'll learn about many of the evolutionary adaptations found in birds, as well as their general life characteristics. 

Week 29
We've made it to mammals! And we need the last two weeks to cover this major taxonomic class! We'll discuss evolution and general characteristics, and then finish up with an in depth look at primates. 

Week 30
Now that we know the characteristics of animals, we're going to discuss behavior and learning- from simple stimulus/response reactions all the way up to language!



























All labs are OPTIONAL and not required to complete the work.
These materials will allow students to follow along with the in-lesson labs.
There will be multiple dissections for this class.
Students who do not have materials can simply follow along with me in the video.

Week 17 Lab Materials:
1) We’ll be growing bacterial cultures this week. For the best results, I recommend using sterile petri dishes (you’ll need at least 4) and sterile nutrient agar. You can purchase these from Amazon,  Homeschoolsciencetools.com, (Get a $5 credit at Homeschoolscience tools by using this link) or lots of other sources.
It doesn’t matter what size petri dish you use. Innoculating loops are good to have as well, but you can use sterile cotton swabs as well. The key here is STERILE for the best results!!

The “I’m not spending money on all of that” version (the one I usually used in live classes!):
unflavored gelatin (Knox is the brand I’ve used) and beef bouillon cubes to make your “agar”.
You can then pour them in to foil cupcake papers and store them in sealed ziplock bags.
Instructions will be given in the lesson.

2) Hand sanitizer or alcohol to sterilize your working area.

Week 18 Lab Materials:
This lab requires a microscope.
You can order protist culture kits from many sources: Homeschoolsciencetools.com has this kit or this one. (Get a $5 credit at Homeschoolscience tools by using this link )
Here is on from Ward’s Scientific. Here is one from Carolina Biological.

Week 19 Lab Materials:
microscope, slides, clear tape.
bread or cheese mold (start growing it now!!).
whole mushroom from the grocery store. Get a few, just in case you mess one up (or get hungry!). If you can get a few different species, that would be great!
2 Onions
2 glasses

Week 21 Lab Materials:
LAB 1:
clear nail polish
clear tape
samples of live leaves from various kinds of plants (2 or 3 types are fine- more is always more fun!)

LAB 2:
1 clear plastic bag (kind of a large one, like 1 gallon zip loc)
twist ties or pieces of wire (you’re going to be attaching a bag to a tree and making it as airtight as possible)

Week 22 Lab Materials:
live flower(s)
root hormone: You can buy it here.
We will be experimenting on cuttings of plants. You will need at least one mature plant from this list or any other fast growing plant that does well from cuttings.
green bean seeds: You should be able to get them from your local garden center or from here.
potting soil and containers

Week 23 Lab Materials:
We have a LOT of dissections coming up! I recommend picking one supplier and getting everything at once if you can to save on shipping. 

Live hydra samples: You can get them at Amazon, Homeschool Science Tools, (Get a $5 credit at Homeschoolscience tools by using this link), Carolina BiologicalWards Scientific, Nebraska Scientific (they have just hydra or the hydra/daphnia combo). If you want to observe the feeding mechanism (recommended) or keep them as pets for a little while, get live Daphnia as well!

Week 24 Lab Materials:
LAB 1:
live planaria: we will be doing external anatomy and cutting them to show forced asexual reproduction through fragmentation. To keep them alive, here are the care instructions.
Nebraska ScientificHomeschool Science ToolsCarolina BiologicalWards Scientific
razor blade
bottled spring water
one long dish
one boiled egg yolk
3 small containers

LAB 2:
a live earthworm: You can do a search and buy them online, but it’s easiest to get these from a bait shop or even from your own garden (where you will return them to when we’re finished!)

LAB 3: Snail Dissection
a preserved specimen from: Nebraska Scientific,  Wards
small pair of needle nose pliers

Week 25 Lab Materials: Comparison of Insect and Crustacean Anatomy
Grasshopper: get preserved specimen from Nebraska Scientific or Homeschool Science Tools
Crawfish: get preserved specimen from Nebraska ScientificHomeschool Science Tools,  or your local grocery store seafood department.
sharp narrow point scissors

Live Daphnia from Week 23

Week 26 Lab Materials:
Fish Dissection: Get a specimen from Nebraska Scientific or your local fish market! I’ll be using a perch, but pretty much any fish will do.
sharp scissors or scalpel

Week 27 Lab Materials:
Frog Dissection: Try to get a double injected specimen if you can (if not, that’s ok) from Nebraska Scientific or Homeschool Science Tools
sharp scissors or scalpel

Week 29 Lab Materials:
Fetal Pig Dissection
Specimen from: Nebraska Scientific or Homeschool Science Tools
sharp scissors or scalpel
yarn or string

Next Level Homeschool is a firm believer that not all learning should happen from behind a screen! That's why we give students the freedom to submit their assignments in the way THEY want to! We don't want regurgitation learning here. By allowing students to use their own talents, skills, and passions to complete assignments, they become even more engaged and retain the information. Why? Because now it's literally in their hands! We receive thousands of projects every year from our students: written reports, videos, models, posters, Scratch, Minecraft, Roblox, songs, poems, skits, drawings, sculptures, craftswe've seen it ALL! And WE LOVE IT!!

Click here to view just a few projects we've received from students who have taken this class and see what YOUR kid could be learning with Next Level Homeschool!

Course Features

  • Schedule Jan 9 - Apr 23
  • Activities Science
  • Lessons 14
  • Suggested Ages 13-17 Two Levels