Astro-Venture  NASA

Biology Training National Standards and Objectives

Click here to download PDF of correlation to California State Standards

The Astro-Venture Biology Educator Guide has been developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for the purpose of increasing students' awareness of and interest in astrobiology and the many career opportunities that utilize science, math, and technology skills. The lessons are designed for educators to use with students in grades 5-8 in conjunction with the Astro-Venture multimedia modules on the Astro-Venture Web site.

Biology Introduction

In the Biology section, students begin as Junior Biologists where they complete the online Biology Training module and discover the biological conditions that make Earth habitable to humans. When they have successfully completed their training, they earn their certificate and are promoted to Senior Biologist. They then engage in offline Biology lessons to discover why we need the biological conditions identified in Biology Training and are introduced to the flow of energy through food webs. The unit concludes with students connecting their new knowledge to systems they explored in the Astronomy, Atmospheric Science, and Biology units and summarizing their learning through a report of their findings to the World Science Foundation that includes recommendations on maintaining the balance of vital Earth systems.



Biology Unit

Unit Concept: Human survival is dependent upon the flow of energy through food webs.

Overview of the Biology unit: Using an online, multimedia module, students change the amounts of energy, producers, consumers, and decomposers and draw conclusions about which factors are necessary for human survival. Students then engage in classroom activities that explore the importance of food for energy and building materials and how living things get their energy and building materials. They further explore the cycle of matter and compare and contrast this with the flow of energy. Finally, they connect their learning to the systems they explored in Astronomy, Atmospheric Sciences and Geology.

The objectives and standards of Astro-Venture Biology are broken down into seven lessons, as shown in the table on the following two pages.

Standards Alignment

Lesson Main Concept Objective Benchmarks/ Standards
1. Biology Training Module Certain biologic conditions help to support human survival.
  • Students make changes to Earth's ecosystem and write descriptive, objective observations of the effects of these changes on Earth.
  • Students will identify the characteristics of Earth's ecosystem that are required to allow for human survival.

NSES: A 5-8 #1
ISTE: 3, 5

Partially Meets:
2061: 5A (6-8) #5
NSES: C (5-8) #4.2, #4.3

2061: 4B 6-8 #2


2. The Importance of Food Food provides molecules that serve as fuel and building material for all organisms.
  • Students will record observations of what happens to food when they eat it.
  • Students will describe the important roles that sugars, vitamins, minerals, water, and blood play in their bodies.
  • Students will illustrate and describe the process that our bodies use to break down food, the parts that make up the food, and why each is important.
Partially Meets:
2061: 5E (6-8) #1
3. Producers Make Their Own Food Plants use the energy in light to make sugars out of carbon dioxide and water. Oxygen is released in this process.
  • Students will use the inquiry process to design and carry out an experiment to determine what plants need to make food.
  • Students will describe what is needed to care for a rare plant.
  • Students will explain why producers are important to other living things.
Partially Meets:
2061: 5E (6-8) #1
NSES: C (5-8) 4.2
NSES: C (5-8) 4.3

2061: 5E (6-8) #3
NSES: D (5-8) 1.11
NCTM: 4, 5, 9

4. Consumers Get Energy from Other Living Things All animals, including humans, are consumers that obtain food by eating other organisms. When organisms eat plants, their bodies break down the plant structures to produce the materials and energy they need to survive. Then they are consumed by other organisms.
  • Students will categorize living things based on subjective categories they feel are important.
  • Students will make and analyze observations of their own energy levels and possible factors that cause changes in these levels.
  • Students will diagram and explain an energy flow that includes humans and will describe the role of photosynthesis and aerobic respiration in this flow.
  • Students will explain why other living things are important to human survival.
Partially Meets:
2061: 5E (6-8) #1
NSES: C (5-8) 4.2

NSES: C (5-8) 4.3

5. Decomposers Get Energy from Dead Things Decomposers, primarily bacteria and fungi, are consumers that use waste materials and dead organisms for food.
  • Students will use the inquiry process to design and carry out an experiment to determine the factor or factors that cause rotting.
  • Students will complete their diagrams of the energy flow by adding decomposers and will explain how decomposers get their energy.
  • Students will explain why decomposers are important to other living things.

Partially Meets:
NSES: C (5-8) 4.2

2061: 5E (6-8) #1
2061: 5D (6-8) #2
NCTM: 5, 9

6. The Cycle of Matter Over a long time, matter is transferred from one organism to another repeatedly and between organisms and their physical environment. As in all material systems, the total amount of matter remains constant, even though its form and location change.
  • Students will draw and explain the cycle of matter, how matter is transferred in this cycle, changing location and form while maintaining the same number of atoms.
  • Students will draw and explain the flow of energy and will compare and contrast a cycle and a flow.
2061: 5E (6-8) #2
7. Biology Conclusion: Summarizing Learning The biological energy flow identifies the relationships among producers, consumers, and decomposers in an ecosystem that are important for human survival.
  • Students will draw and explain concept maps that show how the members of the food web interact with many different systems to support human habitability.
  • Students will write a report of their findings explaining how all astronomical, atmospheric, geological, and biological features work together as a system to support human habitability and how this balance can be maintained.

Partially Meets:
NSES: C 5-8 #4.2
NSES: C 5-8 #4.3

2061 4B 6-8 #2
2061 11A 3-5 #1
2061 11A 3-5 #2
2061 11A 6-8 #2
2061 11A 6-8 #3
NSES C 5-8 #1.5



More Resources

The following link contains a wide variety of activities, web sites, events, organizations, and contests related to Astro-Venture and Astrobiology. The resources are geared for all grade levels, from kindergarten through graduate school.
Go to the resources