science as a human endeavor, the nature of science, and the relationships between science and society.
In historical perspective, science has been practiced by different individuals in different cultures. In looking at the history of many peoples, one finds that scientists and engineers of high achievement are considered to be among the most valued contributors to their culture.
Tracing the history of science can show how difficult it was for scientific innovators to break through the accepted ideas of their time to reach the conclusions that we currently take for granted.
The life science standard for grades 9–12 directly addresses biological evolution. The standard reads as follows:
As a result of their activities in grades 9–12, all students should develop an understanding of:
Molecular basis of heredity
Interdependence of organisms
Matter, energy, and organization in living systems
Behavior of organisms
The guidance for the life science standard describes the major themes of evolutionary theory:
Species evolve over time. Evolution is the consequence of the interactions of (1) the potential for a species to increase its numbers, (2) the genetic variability of offspring due to mutation and recombination of genes, (3) a finite supply of the resources required for life, and (4) the ensuing selection by the environment of those offspring better able to survive and leave offspring.
The great diversity of organisms is the result of more than 3.5 billion years of evolution that has filled every available niche with life forms.
Natural selection and its evolutionary consequences provide a scientific explanation for the fossil record of ancient life forms, as well as for the striking molecular similarities observed among the diverse species of living organisms.
The millions of different species of plants, animals, and microorganisms that live on earth today are related by descent from common ancestors.
Biological classifications are based on how organisms are related. Organisms are classified into a hierarchy of groups and subgroups based on similarities which reflect their evolutionary relationships. Species is the most fundamental unit of classification.