High Altitude Living: A Storyline Unit

What Is It?

The National Science Teaching Association (NSTA), with the sponsorship of the National Human Genome Research Institute, has created eight lesson plans exploring how people are able to live at high altitudes with reduced oxygen. Lesson plan units offer an opportunity to investigate a question or problem related to this phenomenon. 

How Does It Work?

The lesson plans are presented in a storyline format. A storyline starts with an anchoring phenomenon that raises questions or introduces a problem. Each step in a storyline unit is then driven by students’ questions that arise from the phenomenon. In this case, the anchoring phenomenon is a case study about someone who has acute mountain sickness at Everest Base Camp. By examining how people live at high altitudes with reduced oxygen, students will learn core concepts about genetic variation and gene-environment interactions.

High Altitude Living Storyline Unit Lesson Plans:

  1. How can some people live at higher altitudes while other people get ill visiting these places?
  2. How is the Tibetan population able to live in low oxygen environments?
  3. Where did the Tibetan population's physiological strategies come from?
  4. Does everyone living in this region have these alleles?
  5. Where did these different alleles come from?
  6. Do all of the high altitude populations have the same mutation?
  7. Do all kinds of organisms have a lot of genetic diversity?
  8. How does the knowledge of evolution and population genetics help us understand future effects of environmental changes?

Why Is It Important to Me?

While exploring the phenomenon of high altitude living, high school students will be able to build upon their science understanding of disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts. These resources come with accompanying web seminars from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) to help teachers learn how to effectively implement this curriculum unit. These lesson plans also offer an opportunity for students to build science ideas as a community of learners.These resources come with accompanying web seminars from NSTA to help teachers learn how to effectively implement this curriculum unit.

NGSS: Disciplinary Core Ideas: Life Sciences (LS1) (LS3) (LS4)

Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect; Influence of Science, Engineering, and Technology on Society and the Natural World; Patterns; Science is a Human Endeavor; Structure and Function; Stability and Change; Scale, Proportion and Quantity; Systems and System Models

Practices: Analyzing and Interpreting Data; Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions; Engaging in Argument from Evidence; Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information; Science Models, Laws, Mechanisms, and Theories Explain Natural Phenomena; Scientific Knowledge is Based on Empirical Evidence; Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking