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How Do Eggs Become Chickens or Other Living Things?  [v1.0]

Coming Soon - anticipated release date IN Jan 2019



This middle school unit on the structure of living organisms and their growth, development, and reproduction starts off with students encountering a series of news reports about the growing prevalence of backyard chicken coops across the country.  Disagreements about why some chicken eggs hatch baby chickens and others don't, as well competing models about what is going on inside an egg before it hatches, spark student questions and ideas for investigations geared toward trying to figure out where babies of chickens come from and how they develop. 

  The investigations that students pursue help students figure out an answer to these questions as well as an explanation for how an organism grows and builds new body structures and how the structure of the circulatory system and the structure of cells support the movement of water, food, and gas molecules that are needed in these processes. 

This unit illustrates how we can help students uncover the role of cells in the growth and development of living organisms through pursuing questions and ideas for investigations raised by students, rather than needing to teach students about the related science ideas ahead of time before having them plan and conduct such investigations. 

These ideas include... 

  • All living things are made up of cells, which is the smallest unit that can be said to be alive.  

  • An organism may consist of one single cell (unicellular) or many different numbers and types of cells (multicellular). 

  • Within cells, special structures are responsible for particular functions, and the cell membrane forms the boundary that controls what enters and leaves the cell. 

  • In multicellular organisms, the body is a system of multiple interacting subsystems. These subsystems are groups of cells that work together to form tissues and organs that are specialized for particular body functions. 

  • New cells are made from old cells, through chemical reactions in the cell that use food to build new cell parts. 

  • Within individual organisms, food moves through a series of chemical reactions in which it is broken down and rearranged to form new molecules to support growth or to release energy. 



The development of this storyline is sponsored, in part, by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) awarded to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University.  v1.0 pilots are currently underway (during spring of 2018).  Contact Barbara Hug <> for more details.