Teacher Resource

Marine Discovery Arizona Science Education Standards: Strand 4 Life Science

Marine Discovery University of Arizona

This page is linked to the teacher resource: Marine Discovery.

The Marine Discovery outreach program's lab field trip and accompanying activities meet the following Arizona Life Science Education Standards:

Grades k-4 Strand 4 Life Science

Concept 1: Characteristics of Organisms

Understand that basic structures in plants and animals serve a function

Grade 4

PO 1.  Compare structures in plants (e.g., roots, stems, leaves, flowers) and animals (e.g., muscles, bones, nerves) that serve different functions in growth and survival.

PO 2.  Classify animals by identifiable group characteristics:

  • vertebrates – mammals, birds,  fish, reptiles, amphibians
  • invertebrates – insects, arachnids

Concept 3:  Organisms and Environments

Understand the relationships among various organisms and their environment.

Grade 3

Grade 4

PO 1.  Identify the living and nonliving components of an ecosystem.

PO 1.  Describe ways various resources (e.g., air, water, plants, animals, soil) are utilized to meet the needs of a population.

PO 2.  Examine an ecosystem to identify microscopic and macroscopic organisms.


PO 3.  Explain the interrelationships among plants and animals in different environments:

  • producers – plants
  • consumers – animals
  • decomposers – fungi, insects, bacteria


PO 4.  Describe how plants and animals cause change in their environment.


PO 5.  Describe how environmental factors (e.g., soil composition, range of temperature, quantity and quality of light or water) in the ecosystem may affect a member organism’s ability to grow, reproduce, and thrive.

Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior

Identify plant and animal adaptations.

Grade 3

Grade 4

PO 1.  Identify adaptations of plants and animals that allow them to live in specific environments.

PO 1. Recognize that successful characteristics of populations are inherited traits that are favorable in a particular environment.

PO 2.  Describe ways that species adapt when introduced into new environments.

PO 2.  Give examples of adaptations that allow plants and animals to survive.

  • camouflage – horned lizards, coyotes
  • mimicry – Monarch and Viceroy butterflies
  • physical – cactus spines
  • mutualism – species of acacia that harbor ants, which repel other harmful insects

PO 3.  Cite examples of how a species’ inability to adapt to changing conditions in the ecosystem led to the extinction of that species.


Grades 5-8 Strand 4 Life Science

Concept 1: Structure and Function in Living Systems

Understand the relationships between structures and functions of organisms

Grade 5

Grade 6

PO 1.  Identify the functions and parts of the skeletal system:

  • protection – rib cage, cranium
  • support – vertebrae
  • movement – pelvis, femur, hip

PO 6.  Relate the following structures of living organisms to their functions:


  • respiration – gills, lungs
  • digestion – stomach, intestines
  • circulation – heart, veins, arteries, capillaries
  • locomotion – muscles, skeleton


  • transpiration – stomata, roots, xylem, phloem
  • absorption – roots, xylem, phloem
  • response to stimulus (phototropism, hydrotropism, geotropism) – roots, xylem, phloem

 PO 2.  Identify the following types of muscles:

  • cardiac – heart
  • smooth – stomach
  • skeletal – biceps


PO 7.  Describe how the various systems of living organisms work together to perform a vital function:

  • respiratory and circulatory
  • muscular and skeletal
  • digestive and excretory

PO 3.  Identify the functions and parts of the nervous system:

  • control center – brain
  • relay mechanism – spinal cord
  • transport messages – nerves



Concept 3: Populations of Organisms in an Ecosystem

Analyze the relationships among various organisms and their environment.

Grade 6

Grade 7

PO 1.  Explain that sunlight is the major source of energy for most ecosystems.

(See Strand 5 Concept 3 and Strand 6 Concept 2)

PO 1.  Compare food chains in a specified ecosystem and their corresponding food web. 

PO 2.  Describe how the following environmental conditions affect the quality of life:

  • water quality
  • climate
  • population density
  • smog

PO 2.  Explain how organisms obtain and use resources to develop and thrive in:

  • niches
  • predator/prey relationships

PO 3.  Analyze the interactions of living organisms with their ecosystems:

  • limiting factors
  • carrying capacity

PO 4.  Evaluate data related to problems associated with population growth (e.g., overgrazing, forest management, invasion of non-native species) and the possible solutions.

PO 5.  Predict how environmental factors (e.g., floods, droughts, temperature changes) affect survival rates in living organisms.

PO 6.  Create a model of the interactions of living organisms within an ecosystem.

Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior

Identify structural and behavioral adaptations.

Grade 8

PO 1.  Explain how an organism’s behavior allows it to survive in an environment.

PO 2.  Describe how an organism can maintain a stable internal environment while living in a constantly changing external environment.

PO 3.  Determine characteristics of organisms that could change over several generations.

PO 4.  Compare the symbiotic and competitive relationships in organisms within an ecosystem (e.g., lichen, mistletoe/tree, clownfish/sea anemone, native/non-native species).

PO 5.  Analyze the following behavioral cycles of organisms:

  • hibernation
  • migration
  • dormancy (plants)

PO 6.  Describe the following factors that allow for the survival of living organisms:

  • protective coloration
  • beak design
  • seed dispersal
  • pollination

Learning Information

About This Page

Collection: Marine Discovery at the University of Arizona

Marine Discovery is a public outreach program that involves college, elementary and middle school students in an inquiry based and hands-on learning experience. During lab station activities, students have the opportunity to work with live marine animals and teaching specimens. Students are exposed to living and preserved organisms found in the Gulf of California and gain a general understanding of the scientific relationships between them. Student knowledge and interest in ocean life is enriched, and younger students have the opportunity to interact with other, more expert learners.

The Marine Discovery program is offered through the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, at the University of Arizona. Undergraduate students teach third through eighth grade students about the Gulf of California and the ocean in general during a field trip to the UA campus. Visit the Marine Discovery website to see a schedule and find out about bringing your class to the Marine Discovery field trip.

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Marine Discovery University of Arizona
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, at the University of Arizona

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