support of the mission of ASPB, the ASPB Education Foundation was established
in 1995 to provide information and education to increase the publics
knowledge about the role of plants in all areas of life.
Programs - Gap Analysis Comparing ASPB Twelve Principles of Plant Biology
to National and Selected State Education Standards
National Science Education Standards & National Research Council
Summary comparison of ASPB's twelve principles as they relate to the NRC National
Science Education Standards. — ASPB Principles one, four, five and seven,
are addressed at least in some part in the NRC standards.
The National Science Education Standards are designed to enable the
nation to reach the goal that all students should achieve scientific literacy.
"They spell out a vision of science education that will make scientific literacy
for all a reality in the 21st century," said Bruce Alberts, President of the
National Academy of Sciences.
Following are the References to Plant Science in the NRC Standards for Grades
K-4, 5-8 and 9-12:
NRC Plant Science References for Standards for Grades K-4:
"How do plants get food?"
"Plants and animals have life cycles that include being born, developing into
adults, reproducing, and eventually dying. The details of this life cycle are
different for different organisms."
"Plants and animals closely resemble their parents."
"Inherited characteristics include the color of flowers and the number of
limbs on an animal."
"All animals depend on plants. Some animals eat plants for food. Other animals
eat animals that eat the plants."
"When the environment changes, some plants and animals survive and reproduce,
and others die or move to new locations."
NRC Plant Science References for Standards for Grades 5-8:
"However, the student might have misconceptions about the role of sperm and
eggs and about the sexual reproduction of flowering plants."
(There is information on how all organisms are composed of cells — the fundamental
unit of life — and how cells function, without specific mention of plants, although
plants are included in the definition of all organisms.)
"Plants also reproduce sexually — the egg and sperm are produced in flowers
of flowering plants. An egg and sperm unite to begin development of a new individual."
"Plants and some microorganisms are producers — they make their own food.
All animals, including humans, are consumers, which obtain food by eating other
"For ecosystems, the major source of energy is sunlight. Energy entering ecosystems
as sunlight is transferred by producers into chemical energy through photosynthesis.
That energy then passes from organism to organism in food webs."
"The number of organisms an ecosystem can support depends on the resources
available and abiotic factors, such as quantity of light and water, range of
temperatures, and soil composition."
"Millions of species of animals, plants and microorganisms are alive today.
Although different species might look dissimilar, the unity among organisms
becomes apparent from an analysis of internal structures, the similarity of
their chemical processes, and the evidence of common ancestry."
NRC Plant Science References for Standards for Grades 9-12:
(There is considerable attention to the cell and its composition including
DNA and cell functions without specific reference to plants in several paragraphs
with the exception of the following paragraph in which plants are specifically
"Plant cells contain chloroplasts, the site of photosynthesis. Plants and
many microorganisms use solar energy to combine molecules of carbon dioxide
and water into complex, energy rich organic compounds and release oxygen to
the environment. This process of photosynthesis provides a vital connection
between the sun and the energy needs of living systems."
"The millions of different species of plants, animals and microorganisms that
live on earth today are related by descent from common ancestors."
"Energy flows through ecosystems in one direction, from photosynthetic organisms
to herbivores to carnivores and decomposers."
"The energy for life primarily derives from the sun. Plants capture energy
by absorbing light and using it to form strong (covalent) chemical bonds between
the atoms of carbon-containing (organic) molecules. These molecules can be used
to assemble larger molecules with biological activity (including proteins, DNA,
sugars and fats). In addition, the energy stored in bonds between the atoms
(chemical energy) can be used as sources of energy for life processes."
Science for All Americans
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Summary comparison between Science for All Americans Project 2061
and ASPB 12 principles: Science for All Americans Project 2061 addresses
ASPB principles one, two, four, five, six, seven, nine, ten, and twelve.
Science for All Americans outlines what all students should know
and be able to do by the time they leave high school. Science for All Americans
was published by AAAS as part of Project 2061, which is a long term-initiative
of AAAS to reform K-12 education in natural and social science, mathematics
and technology. Begun in 1985, The Project is developing a set of tools to help
local, state and national educators redesign curriculum in these areas and ensure
References to plant science in the AAAS Science for All Americans
Diversity of Life:
"One of the most general distinctions among organisms is between plants, which
get their energy directly from sunlight, and animals, which consume the energy-rich
foods initially synthesized by plants. But not all organisms are clearly one
or the other."
"Animals and plants have a great variety of body plans, with different overall
structures and arrangements of internal parts to perform the basic operations
of making or finding food, deriving energy and materials from it, synthesizing
new materials and reproducing."
"The preservation of diversity of species is important to human beings. We
depend on two food webs to obtain the energy and materials necessary for life.
One starts with microscopic ocean plants and seaweed and includes animals that
feed on them and animals that feed on those animals. The other one begins with
land plants and includes animals that feed on them, and so forth. The elaborate
interdependencies among species serve to stabilize these food webs."
"For example, people have bred their domestic animals and plants to select
desirable characteristics; the results are modern varieties of dogs, cats, cattle,
fowl, fruits and grains that are perceptibly different from their forebears.
Changes have also been observed — in grains, for example — that are extensive
enough to produce new species. In fact, some branches of descendants of the
same parent species are so different from others that they can no longer breed
with one another."
"In sexual reproduction of plants and animals, a specialized cell from a female
fuses with a specialized cell from a male. Each of these sex cells contains
an unpredictable half of the parent's genetic information...As the fertilized
cell multiplies to form an embryo, and eventually a seed or mature individual,
the combined sets are replicated in each new cell."
Interdependence of Life:
"Plants provide food, shelter, and nesting sites for other organisms. For
their part, many plants depend upon animals for help in reproduction (bees pollinate
flowers, for instance) and for certain nutrients (such as minerals in animal
waste products). All animals are part of food webs that include plants and animals
of other species (and sometimes the same species)."
"Some species come to depend very closely on others (for instance, pandas
or koalas can eat only certain species of trees). Some species have become so
adapted to each other that neither could survive without the other (for example,
the wasps that nest only in figs and are the only insect that can pollinate
"Scavengers and decomposers feed only on dead animals and plants. And some
organisms have mutually beneficial relationships -- for example, the bees that
sip nectar from flowers and incidentally carry pollen from one flower to the
next, or the bacteria that live in our intestines and incidentally synthesize
some vitamins and protect the intestinal lining from germs."
Flow of Matter and Energy:
"Almost all life on earth is ultimately maintained by transformations of energy
from the sun. Plants capture the sun's energy and use it to synthesize complex,
energy-rich molecules (chiefly sugars) from molecules of carbon dioxide and
water. These synthesized molecules then serve, directly or indirectly, as the
source of energy for the plants themselves and ultimately for all animals and
decomposer organisms (such as bacteria and fungi). This is the food web: The
organisms that consume the plants derive energy and materials from breaking
down the plant molecules, use them to synthesize their own structures and then
are themselves consumed by other organisms. At each stage in the food web, some
energy is stored in newly synthesized structures and some is dissipated into
the environment as heat produced by energy-releasing chemical processes in cells.
A similar energy cycle begins in the oceans with the capture of the sun's energy
by tiny, plant-like organisms. Each successive stage in a food web captures
only a small fraction of the energy content of organisms it feeds on."
"The elements that make up the molecules of living things are continually
recycled. Chief among these elements are carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen,
sulfur, phosphorus, calcium, sodium, potassium, and iron. These and other elements,
mostly occurring in energy-rich molecules, are passed along the food web and
eventually are recycled by decomposers back to mineral nutrients usable by plants."
"An important interruption in the usual flow of energy apparently occurred
millions of years ago when the growth of land plants and marine organisms exceeded
the ability of decomposers to recycle them. The accumulating layers of energy-rich
organic material were gradually turned into coal and oil by the pressure of
the overlying earth."
"Sustained productivity of an ecosystem requires sufficient energy for new
products that are synthesized (such as trees and crops) and also for recycling
completely the residue of the old (dead leaves, human sewage, etc)".
(There is a section on agriculture in the recommendations which explains how
early man went from being nomadic hunters and gatherers of animals and plants
they found for food, to a stage where they learned to expand their food supplies
through using processing technology such as pounding, salting, cooking and fermenting.
Man also learned how to use inedible parts of plants and animals for tools,
clothes and containers. Man further evolved to planting crops in one place and
encouraging growth with cultivation. Later, man used plant breeding to attain
more favorable characteristics in plants. More recently, the success of modern
genetics has helped to increase the natural variability within plant species.
With knowledge of what the genetic code sequences control what functions, some
characteristics can be transferred from one species to another. This technique
may eventually lead to the design of new characteristics. For example, plants
can be given the genetic program for synthesizing substances that give them
resistance to insect predators. Environmentally harmonious use of biological
controls in crop production may offer advantages over use of some chemicals.
The globalization of the food market has made rich nations less vulnerable to
poor crop yields, but poor nations remain vulnerable.)
Draft Interim Content and Performance Standards
California Department of Education
Summary comparison of ASPB's twelve principles as they relate to the California
Department of Education draft Interim Content and Performance Standards — ASPB
Principles one, four, five, seven, eleven and twelve are addressed at least
in part in the California K-12 draft standards. Plants are mentioned frequently
in the draft standards. The approach of the California draft standards is to
divide Life Science into different sections such as: Cell; Structure/Function;
Diversity; Heredity; Interdependence; Evolution; and Energy Flow. Under each
section, a standard is stated followed by the types of work students should
be able to do, such as observation, comparison and experiments, to learn the
Generally, plants do not appear to be poorly represented in terms of the number
of examples listed in the sections compared to the number of animal and human
examples. Of particular note for K-2 students, plants are used for four of the
five Energy Flow examples. These Energy Flow plant examples are:
"Compare and contrast the effect of specific amounts of water on plants
over a certain period of time."
"Listen to a piece of literature such as 'Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain'
by Vera Aardema and compare how the plants and animals react to the drought,
compare with droughts in your area." "Grow two green plants, one in sunlight
and one in the dark; observe, compare and contrast the results."
"Given pictures of several animals and plants, build a simple food chain
mobile that shows what eats what."
However, plants didn't receive much mention in the Evolution section for K-2
students which only captures plants generically under "living things" while
listing prehistoric animals and dinosaurs as examples of living things. The
evolution of plants fares better in grades 3-5 as plants are mentioned in two
of the five examples under this Evolution section.
Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Technology
New York State Education Department
Summary comparison of ASPB's 12 principles as they relate to the State Education
Department of the State of New York Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science
and Technology — The New York State Standards partially address ASPB principles
one, four, ten, eleven and twelve. The New York State Standards emphasize approaches
to scientific inquiry and analysis which involved use of plants in a number
of examples. For example, teachers are encouraged to divide students into small
groups and ask them to explain why a cactus plant requires much less water to
survive than many other plants. Some of the other plant examples used are:
"Grow bean plants or butterflies; record and describe stages of development"
(to demonstrate continuity of life is sustained through reproduction and development)
"Describe how plants and animals, including humans, depend upon each other
and the nonliving environments" and "Observe the effects of sunlight on growth
for a garden vegetable" (to demonstrate that plants and animals depend on each
other and their physical environments). Preliminary Draft
Illinois Academic Standards — Science
Summary comparison between ASPB twelve principles and Illinois Academic Standards
for Science: ASPB principles one in part and four are addressed in the draft
Illinois Academic Standards. The Illinois life science academic standards are:
Apply concepts of form and function within the sciences (which include comparing
structures of plant cells with animal cells; using plant cells in a salt solution
to explain how cells and organisms react to stimuli and maintain stability;
investigating the cell components for photosynthesis and respiration.
Apply concepts of change and constancy within the sciences (which include
identifying plant and animal features (such as thorns) that help them live in
Apply concepts of models and explanations within the sciences (which includes
comparing characteristics of organisms produced from a single parent including
some plants with those of organisms produced by two parents (e.g. most plants
Explain the historical development and importance of science and technology.
Explain the conceptual relationship between science and technology
Describe and analyze relationships among science, technology and society in
Science Framework Grades K-12
State of Tennessee
Summary comparison of ASPB's 12 principles with the State of Tennessee science
standards: The Tennessee science standards tend not to address ASPB's 12 principles.
However, there are also relatively few examples of animal and human biology
in the Tennessee standards compared to other states.
The approach in Tennessee's standards is use of broader concepts of the process
of science; unifying concepts; habits of mind; and science and society with
less mention of human, animal or plant examples. The introductory section of
the standards lists the national goals of science in the NRC National Science
Education Standards as produced in the 1994 draft. In the appendix of the
Tennessee standards, plants are listed as Content Topics for K-2 Science and
3-5 Science. Botanical Systems are listed as Content Topics for Biology II courses
and may be used for Biology I courses. The Ecology section and Environmental
Science section do not list plants or botanical systems as Content Topics. However,
it would seem that plants would still be covered in these sections under listed
Content Topics such as cycles in nature, energy flow and nutrition, adaptation
and behavior and ecological succession in the Ecology section. It would seem
like there would also be coverage of plants under the Environmental Science
section under Content Topics hierarchy of ecosystem organization, ecosystem
structure and function and energy flow through ecosystems.
Mississippi Science Framework
Summary comparison between the ASPB 12 principles and the Mississippi Science
Framework Grades 9-12: The Mississippi standards address ASPB principles one,
ten and eleven.
In analyzing the interrelationships among cell structure, function and organization
within a living organism, the sample teaching strategies used plant examples
"Relate process of photosynthesis to chloroplast by having students perform
iodine tests on plant leaves grown in the dark as opposed to those grown in
"Test sections of variegated Coleus leaves, comparing colored and green sections
for presence of sugar."
"Compare xylem and phloem of vascular plants to the circulatory system in
humans as examples of transport tissue."
Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills
Secondary Schools Advanced Placement Biology
Summary comparison of Texas standards and ASPB 12 principles: It appears that
several of the ASPB principles would be addressed in the Texas standards, but
the Texas document is presented in the form of a Topic Outline without much
Following are portions of the topic outline related to plants:
Under "molecules and cells" there was reference to photosynthesis, fermentation
and cellular respiration.
Under "organisms and populations" there was reference to the structure and
function of plants and animals including reproduction, growth and development;
structural, physiological and behavioral adaptations; and response to the environment.
The "organisms and populations" section also had a "Plants" subsection on reproduction,
growth and development; structural and physiological adaptations; and response
to the environment.
ASPB Public Affairs Director, Brian Hyps
information on the Foundation and its programs, you can reach
ASPB Education Foundation by email