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The committee developed four core ideas reflecting unifying principles in life sciences.These core ideas are essential for a conceptual understanding of the life sciences and will enable students to make sense of emerging research findings.Evolution also accounts for the remarkable similarity of the fundamental characteristics of all species.The first core idea, LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes, addresses how individual organisms are configured and how these structures function to support life, growth, behavior, and reproduction.Core Idea LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes LS1. D: Information Processing Core Idea LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics LS2. B: Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems LS2. D: Biodiversity and Humans Core Idea LS1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes How do organisms live, grow, respond to their environment, and reproduce? Life is the quality that distinguishes living things—composed of living cells—from nonliving objects or those that have died.
In developing these core ideas, the committee also drew on the established K-12 science education literature, including National Science Education Standards and Benchmarks for Science Literacy [4, 5].Life scientists use observations, experiments, hypotheses, tests, models, theory, and technology to explore how life works.The study of life ranges over scales from single molecules, through organisms and ecosystems, to the entire biosphere, that is all life on Earth.The ideas also incorporate contemporary documents, such as the Science College Board Standards for College Success , and the ideas are consistent with frameworks for national and international assessments, such as those of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) [7-9].Furthermore, the ideas align with the core concepts for biological literacy for undergraduates to build on as described in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) report Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education . C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms LS1.This idea explains the mechanisms of genetic inheritance and describes the environmental and genetic causes of gene mutation and the alteration of gene expression.The fourth core idea, LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity, explores “changes in the traits of populations of organisms over time”  and the factors that account for species’ unity and diversity alike.Next the chapter considers how organisms reproduce, passing genetic information to their offspring, and how these mechanisms lead to variability and hence diversity within species.Finally, the core ideas in the life sciences culminate with the principle that evolution can explain how the diversity that is observed within species has led to the diversity of life across species through a process of descent with adaptive modification.This includes how organisms obtain resources, how they change their environment, how changing environmental factors affect organisms and ecosystems, how social interactions and group behavior play out within and between species, and how these factors all combine to determine ecosystem functioning.The third core idea, LS3: Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits across generations, focuses on the flow of genetic information between generations.