Course Description

This course furthers students’ understanding of the processes that occur in biological systems. Students will study theory and conduct investigations in the areas of biodiversity; evolution; genetic processes; the structure and function of animals; and the anatomy, growth, and function of plants. The course focuses on the theoretical aspects of the topics under study, and helps students refine skills related to scientific investigation.

Unit Titles and DescriptionsTime Allocated
Diversity of Living Things

In this unit, students will demonstrate an understanding that all living things can be classified through the principles of taxonomy and phylogeny. They will use sampling and classification techniques to investigate the principles of scientific classification. Students will analyse the effects of human activity on the diversity of living organisms in ecosystems.

22 hours

In this unit, students will demonstrate an understanding of the theory of evolution and the evidence that supports it. They will examine the mechanisms by which it occurs, including thorough consideration of natural selection and punctuated equilibrium, and evaluate the logic that has drawn scientists to their conclusions. Students will also analyse the economic and environmental implications of artificial selection technology, and evaluate the impact of environmental changes on natural selection and species at risk.

22 hours
Genetic Processes

In this unit, students will evaluate recent advances in our knowledge of genetic processes and demonstrate an understanding that genetic and genomic research can have both social and environmental implications. They will investigate how variability and diversity of living organisms results from the distribution of genetic material during the process of meiosis.  Students will also analyse data to solve basic genetic problems.

22 hours
Animals: Structure and Function

In this unit, students will demonstrate an understanding of how groups of organs with specific structures and functions work together as systems, which interact with other systems in the body. They will investigate by means of computer simulation and independent experimentation, the functional responses and relationships between major organ systems. Students will also be asked to consider how the development and uses of technology to maintain health are related to the changing needs of society.

21 hours
Plants: Anatomy, Growth and Function

In this unit, students will demonstrate an understanding that plants have specialised structures with distinct functions that enable them to respond and adapt to their environment.  They will investigate the structures and functions of plant tissues and factors affecting growth. Students will consider the importance of the plant variety to the survival and sustainability of ecosystems.

21 hours
Final Assessment

This is a proctored exam worth 30% of your final grade.

2 hours
Total110 hours

Resources required by the student:

Note: This course is entirely online and does not require or rely on any textbook.

  • Online lab access to third party software
  • A scanner, smart phone camera, or similar device to upload handwritten or hand-drawn work

Resources provided by ICE:

  • Interactive Periodic Table
  • Online Calculator

Overall Curriculum Expectations

A. Scientific Investigation Skills and Career Exploration
A1demonstrate scientific investigation skills (related to both inquiry and research) in the four areas of skills (initiating and planning, performing and recording, analysing and interpreting, and communicating);
A2identify and describe careers related to the fields of science under study, and describe the contributions of scientists, including Canadians, to those fields.
B. Diversity of Living Things
B1analyse the effects of various human activities on the diversity of living things;
B2investigate, through laboratory and/or field activities or through simulations, the principles of scientific classification, using appropriate sampling and classification techniques;
B3demonstrate an understanding of the diversity of living organisms in terms of the principles of taxonomy and phylogeny.
C. Evolution
C1analyse the economic and environmental advantages and disadvantages of an artificial selection technology, and evaluate the impact of environmental changes on natural selection and endangered species;
C2investigate evolutionary processes, and analyse scientific evidence that supports the theory of evolution;
C3demonstrate an understanding of the theory of evolution, the evidence that supports it, and some of the mechanisms by which it occurs.
D. Genetic Processes
D1evaluate the importance of some recent contributions to our knowledge of genetic processes, and analyse social and ethical implications of genetic and genomic research;
D2investigate genetic processes, including those that occur during meiosis, and analyse data to solve basic genetics problems involving monohybrid and dihybrid crosses;
D3demonstrate an understanding of concepts, processes, and technologies related to the transmission of hereditary characteristics.
E. Animals: Structure and Function
E1analyse the relationships between changing societal needs, technological advances, and our understanding of internal systems of humans;
E2investigate, through laboratory inquiry or computer simulation, the functional responses of the respiratory and circulatory systems of animals, and the relationships between their respiratory, circulatory, and digestive systems;
E3demonstrate an understanding of animal anatomy and physiology, and describe disorders of the respiratory, circulatory, and digestive systems.
F. Plants: Anatomy, Growth and Function
F1evaluate the importance of sustainable use of plants to Canadian society and other cultures;
F2investigate the structures and functions of plant tissues, and factors affecting plant growth;
F3demonstrate an understanding of the diversity of vascular plants, including their structures, internal transport systems, and their role in maintaining biodiversity.


Teaching & Learning Strategies:

As in a conventional classroom, instructors employ a range of strategies for teaching a course:

  • Well-presented, clear writing and helpful graphics and diagrams
  • Hands-on laboratory activities
  • Research assignments, with direct instruction and coaching

In addition, teachers and students have at their disposal a number of tools that are unique to electronic learning environments:

  • Electronic simulation activities
  • Discussion boards and email
  • Assessments with real-time feedback
  • Interactive activities that engage both the student and teacher in subject

Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting Strategies of Student Performance:

Our theory of assessment and evaluation follows the Ministry of Education’s Growing Success document, and it is our firm belief that doing so is in the best interests of students. We seek to design assessment in such a way as to make it possible to gather and show evidence of learning in a variety of ways to gradually release responsibility to the students, and to give multiple and varied opportunities to reflect on learning and receive detailed feedback.

Growing Success articulates the vision the Ministry has for the purpose and structure of assessment and evaluation techniques. There are seven fundamental principles that ensure best practices and procedures of assessment and evaluation by ICE teachers. ICE assessments and evaluations,

  • are fair, transparent, and equitable for all students;
  • support all students, including those with special education needs, those who are learning the language of instruction (English or French), and those who are First Nation, Métis, or Inuit;
  • are carefully planned to relate to the curriculum expectations and learning goals and, as much as possible, to the interests, learning styles and preferences, needs, and experiences of all students;
  • are communicated clearly to students and parents at the beginning of the course and at other points throughout the school year or course;
  • are ongoing, varied in nature, and administered over a period of time to provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate the full range of their learning;
  • provide ongoing descriptive feedback that is clear, specific, meaningful, and timely to support improved learning and achievement;
  • develop students’ self-assessment skills to enable them to assess their own learning, set specific goals, and plan next steps for their learning.

The Final Grade:

The evaluation for this course is based on the student’s achievement of curriculum expectations and the demonstrated skills required for effective learning. The final percentage grade represents the quality of the student’s overall achievement of the expectations for the course and reflects the corresponding level of achievement as described in the achievement chart for the discipline. A credit is granted and recorded for this course if the student’s grade is 50% or higher. The final grade will be determined as follows:

  • 70% of the grade will be based upon evaluations conducted throughout the course. This portion of the grade will reflect the student’s most consistent level of achievement throughout the course, although special consideration will be given to more recent evidence of achievement.
  • 30% of the grade will be based on final evaluations administered at the end of the course. The final assessment may be a final exam, a final project, or a combination of both an exam and a project.

The Report Card:

Student achievement will be communicated formally to students via an official report card. Report cards are issued at the midterm point in the course, as well as upon completion of the course. Each report card will focus on two distinct, but related aspects of student achievement. First, the achievement of curriculum expectations is reported as a percentage grade. Additionally, the course median is reported as a percentage. The teacher will also provide written comments concerning the student’s strengths, areas for improvement, and next steps. Second, the learning skills are reported as a letter grade, representing one of four levels of accomplishment. The report card also indicates whether an OSSD credit has been earned. Upon completion of a course, ICE will send a copy of the report card back to the student’s home school (if in Ontario) where the course will be added to the ongoing list of courses on the student’s Ontario Student Transcript. The report card will also be sent to the student’s home address.

Program Planning Considerations:

Teachers who are planning a program in this subject will make an effort to take into account considerations for program planning that align with the Ontario Ministry of Education policy and initiatives in a number of important areas.


Institute of Canadian Education (ICE), Toronto.

Head Quarters (Toronto)
140 La Rose Ave #201, Etobicoke, ON M9P 1B2
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