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Is Discovering Life Science the book for you?

Discovering Life Science is well suited for middle school teachers who fit

the following descriptions: 

1)  Those who intend to have their students teach themselves most of the basic

     content (in class or via brief homework assignments and review questions);

          Nearly all of the 72 lessons consist of two to four heavily illustrated pages.

          Since a description of a hands-on activity and the lesson’s review questions

          usually combine to account for one of these pages, students are rarely

          required to read more than one or two pages per assignment.*

​2) Those who incorporate a considerable amount of their own supplemental


3) Those who devote much of their class time to hands-on activities that reinforce

     the content;

4) Those seeking a book with brief lessons that are well suited to the teaching

     of outlining. 

​5) Those who prefer to give their students a break from screen work, but need a

     very low cost book. 


* Discovering Life Science would also work well for teachers who must set aside class time for students to read the content. While the content matches well with the material included in any good 7th grade life science textbook, the writing style is straight-forward, with a preponderance of short sentences. The text uses a two-column format - a less intimidating layout for young readers. Large, clearly-labeled illustrations are integrated throughout. Every lesson ends with review questions, as does each unit. ​


From the author: For most of my career, the five descriptions above applied to me. During the last 34 years of my teaching career, (while at a private, independent school where nearly all of the children were college bound), my students taught themselves the bulk of the course's content via Globe Life Science, the book upon which Discovering Life Science is based. After my retirement, the senior author of the Globe book, Bryan Bunch, accepted my offer to update his book. All of the original lessons have been retained. However, to make the book a good fit for a wider range of students, many more illustrations were incorporated, and a bit more detail was added to many of the lessons.  Three new lessons were also produced: one that elaborates on strategies that scientists use (beyond simply the scientific method); one that explains, in a very basic manner, the roles of DNA and RNA in the production of proteins; and one that expands on the strong evidence that evolution is a fact. A “poster” page was added that provides evidence of adolescents’ need for at least eight hours of sleep. Also, an additional careers page was added; its focus is on careers in scientific research and in science education.


The Importance of Optimism

In an honest, but positive manner, Discovering Life Science informs

young people of historical and recent events related to biology - including those

that threaten the planet - particularly global warming. However, students learn that science, when practiced thoughtfully, is a means to make things better. They also are encouraged to believe that the actions of individuals are vital.

[Under the CONTENTS option, see Unit 1 Lesson 12 for a good example.]

A Fact-based Approach

As evidenced by this website's sample lessons, topics like evolution, humanity's influence on global warming, variations in gender identity, and data-driven advances in medicine (such as vaccines), are presented as facts, not opinions. 

Up-to-date material

While a middle school text is certainly not the place for in-depth explanations of complex biological information, this book does introduce students to terms such as COVID-19, mRNA vaccines, CRISPR, in vitro fertilization, stem cells, genetically modified organisms (such as GMO foods), genetically engineered organs for transplantation, the human microbiota (microbiome), and endosymbiosis.

[Under "CONTENTS" see Unit 9 Lesson 6 / (IVF and gender identity), Unit 9 Lesson 8 / (evolution), and Unit 7 Lesson 3 / (stem cells).]

A Focus on Diversity - Racial / Ethnic / Gender 

The book on which Discovering Life Science was based set a high bar with its inclusion of content and images that portray society as multicultural, and its praise for the contributions by minorities and women. Discovering Life Science continues, and extends, this tradition.

The important work of people of color like Angela Ferguson, Ernest Just, and Charles Drew is applauded. Besides Dr. Ferguson, women scientists in the book include

Rachel Carson, Emmanuelle Charpentier, Jennifer Doudna, Sylvia Earle,

Rosalind Franklin, Jane Goodall, Barbara McClintock, Lynn Margulis, Valerie Pence,

Florence Sabin, and Suzanne Simard.

For a complete list of the scientists mentioned in the book,

select "SCIENTISTS INCLUDED" from the CONTENTS menu item.

In a lesson on the genetic determination of gender, students are told that some people identify as genders that don’t match their biology, and some people consider themselves to be non-binary. [See Unit 9 Lesson 6 / Gender Inheritance under the CONTENTS menu item.]

Rationale and Strategies: Text
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