Parts of a Cell

The Living Cell

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The Living Cell

Join Jenna and Tony in an impromptu game of "cell-ebrity squares" to learn about the structure and functions of plant and animal cells. With help from knowledgeable "cell-ebrities," and actual cell footage, students learn about the characteristics of living things, the parts of a cell, cell theory, diffusion and osmosis, and active and passive transport. Inspire students to learn more with their own game of "cell-ebrity squares."

Play "cell-ebrity" squares to learn about the structure and functions of plant and animal cells.

  1. Students will learn cells are the building blocks that are essential for life. All living things are made of cells. Cells are the smallest and most basic unit in living matter.
  2. Students will understand every living thing has five basic functions: (1) to grow and develop, (2) to use energy, (3)to reproduce, (4)to respond to their environment, and (5) to get rid of waste.
  3. Students will learn the common characteristics of living things include ability to adapt to the environment, the ability to use energy, sensitivity to the environment, reproduction, the ability to grow, and the presence of cells.
  4. Students will observe not all cells are the same; an organism with many cells generally has many different kinds of cells. Each different kind of cell has a specific function for an organism.
  5. Students will learn cells are organized into tissue. Tissue is a group of similar cells that work together to carry out a job. Each tissue has its own function.
  6. Students will understand cells work together to perform basic life processes that keep organisms alive. Each individual cell can also perform basic life processes on its own.
  7. Students will learn Robert Hook is the scientist who discovered cells in 1665.
    1. Hook discovered cells while observing a slice of cork under a microscope. The tiny walled spaces he saw in the cork reminded him of little rooms, so he called them cells.
    2. Matthias Schleiden found that every type of plant tissue is made of cells. Theodor Schwann discovered that all animal tissues were made of cells. Schleiden and Schwann are considered the founders of cell theory.
  8. Students will understand there are three ideas to cell theory: cells are the basic unit of life, all organisms are composed of one or more cells, and all cells arise from preexisting cells.
  9. Students will observe there are two types of cells: those with a nucleus and those without.
    1. The nucleus is the area that controls the cell's activities.
    2. Plant cells and animal cells both contain a nucleus, cell membrane, cytoplasm, vacuoles, a power plant, and a chemical factory.
  10. Students will learn the basic differences between most plant and animal cells are covering, color, and shape.
    1. A plant cell has a thick wall, and an animal cell has a thin covering called a membrane.
    2. Most plant cells have green coloring; animal cells do not.
    3. Most plant cells have a box-like shape; animal cells come in many different shapes.
    4. Students will learn the different structures of a cell are called organelles. Organelles have different functions.
      1. The cell membrane is one of the three main parts of most cells. The cell membrane covers the cell and has tiny holes to let in needed materials and let out waste. The cell membrane also holds the parts of the cell together and separates it from its surroundings. In plants, the cell wall is a rigid layer that supports and protects the plant cell.
      2. Within the cell membrane is the cytoplasm, another main part of most cells. Cytoplasm is a jellylike substance that contains chemicals that keep the cell functioning.
      3. The third main part of most cells is the nucleus. The nucleus controls cell activities. Within the nucleus are chromosomes — threadlike structures that control an organism's traits and ensure the production of new cells.
      4. Mitochondria, the cell's power plants, break down food and release energy into the cell.
      5. The chemical factory makes building material for other parts of the cell to use — helping the cell to grow and change.
      6. Vacuoles provide storage for food, water, and wastes.
      7. Chloroplasts, found in plants, make up the food factory. Chloroplasts contain chlorophyll and use energy from the sun to make their food.
    5. Students will understand the difference between plant cells and fungi cells is that some fungi cells have more than one nucleus, and they don't have green chloroplasts to make food.
    6. Students will learn protists are one-celled microorganisms that live in pond water. Protists are a type of cell that can be similar to either a plant or an animal cell.
    7. Students will know bacteria are one-celled organisms that have no nucleus. A bacterium has a cell wall, and the chromosomes are scattered throughout the cell. Bacteria do not have many cell structures. Bacteria are much smaller than most plant, animal, or Protist cells.
    8. Students will understand diffusion is a method of transport in cells whereby particles move from an area with greater concentration to an area of lesser concentration. Diffusion does not need energy from the cell for movement. Osmosis is a type of diffusion. Osmosis is the movement of water and dissolved materials through cell membranes.
    9. Students will know passive transport is the energy-free movement of materials. Active transport is the movement of materials against the usual flow of diffusion or when materials are particularly large. Active transport requires energy.
    10. Students will know a virus does not have cell parts and it is not a living thing. The only life function a virus performs is reproduction.

  1. Edible cell. Pour liquidized lemon Jell-O into separate zip-style plastic bags (animal cells) and some of the Jell-O into square plastic containers (plant cells). Add to the bags fruit to represent each organelle — grapes for the nucleus, lemon wedges for the mitochondria, raisins for chloroplasts, etc. Refrigerate overnight. Have students discuss the different shapes and sizes of the cells, stack them together to make "tissue," and compare the structure of "plant" and "animal" cells.

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