Welcome To My Life Science 7 Class Wikispace!


I am Mrs. Merrill, your Science 7 or STEM Elective teacher and tech coach for the year. You will find me in J1 or in the computer labs on campus.

I grew up in this valley, went to school here, traveled the world, and returned to teach at Fillmore Middle School.

I attended UCSD and UCSB and have my bachelor's degree in Life Science. I also have a master's degree of science in Education Media Design and Technology from Full Sail University.

I taught high school biology and middle school science in Santa Barbara for my teacher training.

I received my teaching credential from UCSB in 1984.

I recently continued my education at Full Sail Online University and completed a master's degree of science in Education Media Design and Technology in 2011.

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I quickly discovered that middle school was the right grade level for me; middle school students are spontaneous, energetic, creative, and capable learners. Middle school students make sure that there is never a dull day at school. I received my teaching credential in 1984 and have taught in Fillmore ever since.

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I am married and have two sons. My oldest son just graduated from UCLA. My youngest son is pursuing a degree in computer science.
We have two dogs - Sol and Luna.

I look forward to integrating new technologies into the Life Science 7 and STEM curricula.

Learn Science through gaming and virtual worlds: Genome Island

Life Science 7 Curriculum

Quarter 1 - Introduction to Science Inquiry and Cell Biology


Quarter 2 - Genetics


Quarter 3 - Earth and Life History - Evolution




Quarter 4 - Focus on Human Body: Structure and Function of Living Things & Physical Principles in Living Systems

Inquiry Science Experiments and Investigations (all four quarters)


Purpose of this website:
The main purpose of this Wikispace website is to showcase examples of student work, share links to further learning, introduce games for further learning, and inform you about the class. If you are absent, this website is a great way for you to find out what you missed, what was turned in, and what you need to do to make up the missing assignments. You will also find my contact information and Wishlist below.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)


Question: What will a student in my class do to learn about science?

Answer: Students will complete a series of inquiry biology lab experiments and engineering investigations, that are standards based, and follow along with our textbook. Students will create research based cell models, host a genetics fair, create evolution projects, research and present an Earth Day project to the community, and create health education movies and commercials. Students will regularly spend time on the Internet researching cool things about science and share what they find with their classmates through project based learning. There will also be Science in the News and Science and Society Debates. Students will experiment with learning through gaming and virtual worlds. Students will learn a variety of online tools that will improve their documented learning in Life Science 7 and STEM Elective.

Question: Will students ever have to present in front of the class?

Answer: Yes, but when you do the research and follow the project timeline, you will always be prepared.

Question: Is it true students work in the garden in your class?

IMG_0612_-_Version_2.jpgAnswer: Yes, together we will work on the FMS Gardens and the outdoor classrooms. Students learn life science standards as they garden.
This year a main goals are to get the Outdoor Classroom completed and to landscape the FMS campus with native plants recommended by US Fish and Wildlife.

Question: Why were your students measuring the parking lot?

IMG_0745.jpgAnswer: Because we are creating a wildlife habitat in our parking lot. Not for large wildlife but for smaller but important wildlife like bees, lizards, birds and butterflies. Please let us know if you are interested in helping us with this project.

Question: Will you teach us new technology?

IMG_1866.jpgAnswer: Yes, you will learn many new web tools to use on a computer, a cell phone, and gaming system.

Question: Is it true your students will be testing out new science videogames?

ct_2_400pixels.jpgAnswer: Yes, the first one we will test is Immune Attack.

Question: Do you have a lot of class rules?

Answer: No. It just takes three rules to get along fine in my class
ALWAYS: 1. Be prepared 2. Contribute 3. Practice respect

Question: What happens if I cut myself during a dissection or experiment?

Answer: You will learn all the correct safety procedures (including what to do if you cut yourself) and pass a safety test before we get started.

Question: How do I earn an A in your class?
Answer: Complete all assignments to the best of your ability in a manner that teaches you the most about science. Study hard for all tests and quizzes and participate in all research projects.

Question: What percent do I need to get an A?
Answer: A 90-100% B 80-89% C 70-79% D 60-69% F below a 60%


Question: What do I do if I need extra help?
Answer: The best way to get extra help is to stay after school on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday or check this website for more ideas for help.


Question: How can parents help in Life Science 7?
Answer: Parents are always welcome to help in class (especially on dissection days), parents can help in the garden and wildlife habitat work on Mondays, and parents can make a donation to Merrill Science 7 to help us purchase science and garden equipment. Parents can help with the STEM Career video library and/or the Science In the Garden Video Library.


What are the California Life Science 7 Standards?

7th Grade Science Content Standards
Focus on Life Science

Cell Biology

1. All living organisms are composed of cells, from just one to many trillions, whose details usually are visible only through a microscope.

As a basis for understanding this concept, students know:
a. cells function similarly in all living organisms.
b. the characteristics that distinguish plant cells from animal cells, including chloroplasts and cell walls.
c. the nucleus is the repository for genetic information in plant and animal cells.
d. mitochondria liberate energy for the work that cells do, and chloroplasts capture sunlight energy for photosynthesis.
e. cells divide to increase their numbers through a process of mitosis, which results in two daughter cells with identical sets of chromosomes.
f. as multicellular organisms develop, their cells differentiate.


2. A typical cell of any organism contains genetic instructions that specify its traits. Those traits may be modified by environmental influences.
As a basis for understanding this concept, students know:
a. the differences between the life cycles and reproduction of sexual and asexual organisms.
b. sexual reproduction produces offspring that inherit half their genes from each parent.
c. an inherited trait can be determined by one or more genes.
d. plant and animal cells contain many thousands of different genes, and typically have two copies of every gene. The two copies (or alleles) of the gene may or may not be identical, and one may be dominant in determining the phenotype while the other is recessive.
e. DNA is the genetic material of living organisms, and is located in the chromosomes of each cell.


3. Biological evolution accounts for the diversity of species developed through gradual processes over many generations.

As a basis for understanding this concept, students know:
a. both genetic variation and environmental factors are causes of evolution and diversity of organisms.
b. the reasoning used by Darwin in making his conclusion that natural selection is the mechanism of evolution.
c. how independent lines of evidence from geology, fossils, and comparative anatomy provide a basis for the theory of evolution.
d. how to construct a simple branching diagram to classify living groups of organisms by shared derived characteristics, and expand the diagram to include fossil organisms.
e. extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and the adaptive characteristics of a species are insufficient for its survival.

Earth and Life History (Earth Science)

4. Evidence from rocks allows us to understand the evolution of life on Earth.
As the basis for understanding this concept, students know:
a. Earth processes today are similar to those that occurred in the past and slow geologic processes have large cumulative effects over long periods of time.
b. the history of life on Earth has been disrupted by major catastrophic events, such as major volcanic eruptions or the impact of an asteroid.
c. the rock cycle includes the formation of new sediment and rocks. Rocks are often found in layers with the oldest generally on the bottom.
d. evidence from geologic layers and radioactive dating indicate the Earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old, and that life has existed for more than 3 billion years.
e. fossils provide evidence of how life and environmental conditions have changed.
f. how movements of the Earth's continental and oceanic plates through time, with associated changes in climate and geographical connections, have affected the past and present distribution of organisms.
g. how to explain significant developments and extinctions of plant and animal life on the geologic time scale.

Structure and Function in Living Systems

5. The anatomy and physiology of plants and animals illustrate the complementary nature of structure and function.

As a basis for understanding this concept, students know:
a. plants and animals have levels of organization for structure and function, including cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, and the whole organism.
b. organ systems function because of the contributions of individual organs, tissues, and cells. The failure of any part can affect the entire system.
c. how bones and muscles work together to provide a structural framework for movement.
d. how the reproductive organs of the human female and male generate eggs and sperm, and how sexual activity may lead to fertilization and pregnancy.
e. the function of the umbilicus and placenta during pregnancy.
f. the structures and processes by which flowering plants generate pollen and ovules, seeds, and fruit.
g. how to relate the structures of the eye and ear to their functions.

Physical Principles in Living Systems (Physical Science)

6. Physical principles underlie biological structures and functions.
As a basis for understanding this concept, students know:
a. visible light is a small band within a very broad electromagnetic spectrum.
b. for an object to be seen, light emitted by or scattered from it must enter the eye.
c. light travels in straight lines except when the medium it travels through changes.
d. how simple lenses are used in a magnifying glass, the eye, camera, telescope, and microscope.
e. white light is a mixture of many wavelengths (colors), and that retinal cells react differently with different wavelengths.
f. light interacts with matter by transmission (including refraction), absorption, or scattering (including reflection).
g. the angle of reflection of a light beam is equal to the angle of incidence.
h. how to compare joints in the body (wrist, shoulder, thigh) with structures used in machines and simple devices (hinge, ball-and-socket, and sliding joints).
i. how levers confer mechanical advantage and how the application of this principle applies to the musculoskeletal system.
j. contractions of the heart generate blood pressure, and heart valves prevent backflow of blood in the circulatory system.

Investigation and Experimentation

7. Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations.
As a basis for understanding this concept, and to address the content the other three strands, students should develop their own questions and perform investigations. Students will:
a. select and use appropriate tools and technology (including calculators, computers, balances, spring scales, microscopes, and binoculars) to perform tests, collect data, and display data.
b. utilize a variety of print and electronic resources (including the World Wide Web) to collect information as evidence as part of a research project.
c. communicate the logical connection among hypothesis, science concepts, tests conducted, data collected, and conclusions drawn from the scientific evidence.
d. construct scale models, maps and appropriately labeled diagrams to communicate scientific knowledge (e.g., motion of Earth's plates and cell structure).
e. communicate the steps and results from an investigation in written reports and verbal presentations.

All California Science Standards K-12
Find out about the new science standards on the horizon.
Next Generation Science Standards
Find out about the Common Core
Common Core Standards

Contact Me

Question: How do I contact you when I need to?
1. Contact me at school in J1 (please go to the office first to get a visitor badge).
2. Contact me by email: lmerrill@fillmore.k12.ca.us
3. Contact me by phone: 524-6070


Patience Please - All Science Wikis R Under Construction

Below are links to several FMS Life Science 7 Gallery Sites where you will find galleries of student work.
Please report any broken links or mistakes that you find as you navigate through the Wikis.

FMS Wildlife Habitat Wiki

FMS Earth Day Wiki

FMS Health Education Wiki

FMS Career Education Wiki

FMS Tech Squad Wiki