This section is all about cells, which are the tiny things that everything is made of. We’ll start off by talking about the scientists who first observed and described cells. Then we’ll talk about cells themselves. We’ll learn about things even smaller than cells that are inside of them, and what they do to help cells survive and do their jobs. We’ll also talk about how things get in and out of cells. Finally, we’ll take a look at how cells reproduce. All of this is important because cells make up all living things. In order to understand how living things like animals, plants, and bacteria live and grow, we must understand cells.
A section of activities also focus on genetics that relate to animal life as well. Students will learn to use a Punnett square to determine genotypes and phenotypes of offspring. At the completion of this section, students will understand the elements of the food web, as well as introductory genetics.
Students will also discover how the skeleton, bone joints, muscle tension, blood cells, lungs, ears, and eyes work together by creating a working lung model so you can see how pressure differences affect the lungs and diaphragm; a robotic hand model with real tendons; working eye model which you can adapt for near- and farsighted conditions; how to do chemical fingerprinting and so much more!
Here are the scientific concepts:
- All living organisms are composed of cells, from just one to many trillions, whose details usually are visible only through a microscope.
- Cells function similarly in all living organisms.
- The characteristics that distinguish plant cells from animal cells, including chloroplasts and cell walls.
- The nucleus is the repository for genetic information in plant and animal cells.
- Mitochondria liberate energy for the work that cells do, and chloroplasts capture sunlight energy for photosynthesis.
- Cells divide to increase their numbers through a process of mitosis, which results in two daughter cells with identical sets of chromosomes.
- As multicellular organisms develop, their cells differentiate.
- A typical cell of any organism contains genetic instructions that specify its traits. Those traits may be modified by environmental influences.
- The differences between the life cycles and reproduction of organisms.
- Reproduction produces offspring that inherit half their genes from each parent.
- An inherited trait can be determined by one or more genes.
- 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.
- DNA is the genetic material of living organisms, and is located in the chromosomes of each cell.
- Plants and animals have levels of organization for structure and function, including cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, and the whole organism.
- Organ systems function because of the contributions of individual organs, tissues, and cells.
- How bones and muscles work together to provide a structural framework for movement.
- How to relate the structures of the eye and ear to their functions.
- 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).
- How levers confer mechanical advantage and how the application of this principle applies to the musculoskeletal system.
- Contractions of the heart generate blood pressure, and heart valves prevent backflow of blood in the circulatory system.
By the end of the labs in this unit, students will be able to:
- Design and build a working robotic hand by understanding how tendons work to create movement.
- Know how to demonstrate how the eye works, and demonstrate common eye problems.
- Understand how to determine lung capacity, monitor heart rate, and several other measurable functions of the body.
- Demonstrate how the body can be modeled by simple machines and joint models.
- Differentiate observation from inference (interpretation) and know scientists’ explanations come partly from what they observe and partly from how they interpret their observations.
- Measure and estimate the weight, length and volume of objects.
- Formulate and justify predictions based on cause-and-effect relationships.
- Conduct multiple trials to test a prediction and draw conclusions about the relationships between predictions and results.
- Construct and interpret graphs from measurements.
- Follow a set of written instructions for a scientific investigation.