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Lesson summary for:
Adaptation to altitude

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Overview:
In this set of sequenced lessons, students learn how to devise an experiment to test the difference between acclimation and adaptation; investigate how scientific arguments show support for natural selection in Tibetans; design an investigation using a simulation based on the Hardy-Weinberg principle to explore mechanisms of evolution; and devise a test for whether other groups of people have adapted to living at high altitudes.

Author/Source:
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Grade level:
9-12

Time:
8 50 minute class periods

Teaching tips:
High school teachers may want to pick and choose selected lessons within this sequence to use. Some lessons may be too challenging for a regular high school biology course. The more challenging lessons could be particularly useful in an AP biology course.

Concepts:
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • Biological evolution accounts for diversity over long periods of time. (LS4.A, LS4.D)

  • Present-day species evolved from earlier species; the relatedness of organisms is the result of common ancestry. (LS4.A)

  • There is a fit between organisms and their environments, though not always a perfect fit. (LS4.C)

  • An organism's features reflect its evolutionary history.

  • Traits that confer an advantage may persist in the population and are called adaptations. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism's survival and reproduction. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • Random factors can affect the survival of individuals and of populations.

  • Natural selection acts on the variation that exists in a population. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • Natural selection acts on phenotype as an expression of genotype.

  • Organisms cannot intentionally produce adaptive mutations in response to environmental influences.

  • Over time, the proportion of individuals with advantageous characteristics may increase (and the proportion with disadvantageous characteristics may decrease) due to their likelihood of surviving and reproducing. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • A hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing. (P3, P4, P6, P7)

  • Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence. (P6, NOS2)

  • Scientists can test ideas about events and processes long past, very distant, and not directly observable.

  • Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data. (P2, P3, P4, NOS1)

  • Scientists use experimental evidence to study evolutionary processes.

  • There is variation within a population. (LS3.B)

  • Natural selection is dependent on environmental conditions.

Teacher background:

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