Resource Image Cell Structure and Function: Cells – The Basis of Life
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Type of Resource: Science Object
Average Rating: Rating
 based on 21 reviews
Publication Title: None
Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School


Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the first of four Science Objects in the Cell Structure and Function SciPack. It explores the difference between living and non-living things as it looks at the many different types of cells. All self-replicating life forms are composed of cells,-from single-celled bacteria to elephants, with their trillions of cells. Although a few giant cells, such as hens' eggs, can be seen with the naked eye, most cells are microscopic. Multi-celled organisms are composed of many tiny microscopic cells, as opposed to fewer larger cells. Surface area to volume ratio makes efficient food absorption and waste removal possible in cells.

Ideas For Use


Does Anyone Have Good Ideas/Resources for Teaching the Basics of Plant and Animal Cells to 5th Graders?
Posted in Elementary Science by Dorothy Ginnett on Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:38 PM

Hi Julianne - You may want to check out the NSTA [b]Science Object: Cell Structure and Function - The Basis of Life...

Additional Info

Science Discipline: (mouse over for full classification)
Cellular structures
Asexual reproduction
Sexual reproduction
Intended User Role:Elementary-Level Educator, Middle-Level Educator, Teacher
Educational Issues:Inquiry learning, Professional development, Teacher content knowledge


Resource Format:
Size: KB
Installation Remarks:

National Standards Correlation

This resource has 10 correlations with the National Standards.  

This resource has 10 correlations with the National Standards.  

  • Life Science
    • The characteristics of organisms
      • Organisms have basic needs. For example, animals need air, water, and food; plants require air, water, nutrients, and light. (K-4)
      • Each plant or animal has different structures that serve different functions in growth, survival, and reproduction. For example, humans have distinct body structures for walking, holding, seeing, and talking. (K-4)
    • Structure and function in living systems
      • All organisms are composed of cells--the fundamental unit of life (5-8)
      • Cells carry on the many functions needed to sustain life. They grow and divide, thereby producing more cells. (5-8)
    • Reproduction and heredity
      • Reproduction is a characteristic of all living systems; because no individual organism lives forever, reproduction is essential to the continuation of every species. (5-8)
      • Some organisms reproduce asexually (5-8)
      • Some organisms reproduce sexually. (5-8)
      • Hereditary information is contained in genes, located in the chromosomes of each cell. (5-8)
      • The characteristics of an organism can be described in terms of a combination of traits. (5-8)
  • Process Standards for Professional Development
    • Research-Based
      • Address teachers' needs as learners and build on their current knowledge of science content, teaching, and learning. (NSES)

State Standards Correlation

Use the form below to view which of your state standards this resource addresses.

User Reviews

Introduction to Biology
  Robin Willig (Rye Brook, NY) on April 2, 2015
  This is a good introduction to the study of living things and their classification groups.

I love Science Objects!
  Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA) on September 1, 2014
  I really enjoy Science Objects. In 1-3 hours, the Cell Structure and Function: Cells – The Basis of Life will help me re-learn, refresh, or learn for the first time some critical science concepts I will have to know to obtain my Science Educator credentials. I appreciate that I can complete them at my own pace, and that, if used as park of a SciPack, I have access to a content expert to go to for help. The NSTA Learning Center Science Objects are really beneficial!

  Jo Inserra (Utica, NY) on August 18, 2014
  excellent source

The Building Blocks of Life
  Lorrie Armfield (Laurel, MD) on December 18, 2011
  This is a great resource for examining how all living things are composed of cells, and that cells carry out basic life functions. It was clear and concise, and helped the viewer to differentiate between unicellular and multicelluar organisms. I most certainly am eager to share this resource with my scholars as we begin to explore our life science module (animal and plant cells).

Deeping my background knowledge on cells
  Angelika Fairweather (Bradenton, FL) on April 1, 2011
  This learning object really made me examine my knowledge of the characteristics of living things. It was interesting to test my own set of rules to find my own misconceptions. I also gained historical perspective. For example, I did not know Leeuwenhoek studied the "white" stuff in his mouth as one of his first specimens.

cell struture and function
  Paulette Burdett on February 1, 2011
  It was great for my class. the graphics are really good

Who knew??
  Sherene McDonald on January 31, 2011
  This is another general overview assessment that can even breakdown where you went wrong, good to know!

Great Overview of the Topic
  David on November 10, 2010
  This object provided a very thorough overview of characteristics of life, the importance of the size of cells, and general classification. The order of information was appropriate and the pictures help in the review of the material. I especially found that the topic of surface area to volume as a limitation to cell size was explained in an easy to understand manner and I plan on using similar wording next time with my students.

  JOEL DE BARROS (SUCCASUNNA , ) on July 5, 2010
  I found this to be extremely beneficial and informative to improving my knowledge of the Biology content area. It helped to streghten prior knowledge and provided an alternative perspective that I can incorporate into my special education classroom. Two thumbs up!!

  Jerry P (Fuquay Varina, NC) on July 14, 2009
  The information was presented in the appropriate order. I loved the microscopic pics that were used during the lesson.

Cell Structure and Function: Cells – The Basis of
  marwa khemir on June 4, 2009
  Cell Structure and Function: Cells – The Basis of Life

Cell Structure and Function: Cells: The Basis of
  Christine on January 14, 2008
  This is great and can be modified for multiple grade levels.

great overview
  Deborah on April 29, 2015
  This was a great overview of Cells and the structure and functions

great overview
  Deborah on April 13, 2015
  great overview for a first time teacher but still had some information that was a bit difficult

Time Well Spent
  Matt Lawton (Zeeland, MI) on August 4, 2013
  I am new to these and have done four sci objetcs related to cells. A lot of overlap, but that is not necessarily bad. Definitely know the material better than before I started.

Quick content review
  Emily Keeter (Northbrook, IL) on July 30, 2013
  Nothing ground breaking here, but a quick content review. Helpful for showing the scope and sequence of a characteristics of life unit for middle school students. I kept it open while creating a Keynote and a Prezi for my students.

good series
  Genevieve on December 28, 2011
  This series is well organized and explained. It covers enough details for upper level students and not too much for lower level students. Good resource to refresh how you teach the topic. The quiz answer check didn't always work and it wasn't clear which was the right answer for a few answer boxes.

Cell Structure and Functions
  Barbara Ryan on December 14, 2011
  For the middle school standards the topic of cells is important in the learning process of students. This topic is relevant and enhances the understanding of organelles and how they do their jobs to help the cell function. Each organelle is important and needed to work with other organelles in order for the cell to do its job. The type of organelles a cell has depends on t he type of cell itself. The comparing and contrasting of animal and plant cells is important for students to understand. The difference between a more complex cell and that of bacteria with limited organelles but still carrying out the same functions is also important for student to understand. All this information can be found here.

Breaks everything down
  kelly (brewster, NY) on November 22, 2011
  This was a good page to view, I like how it broke down the entire lesson and checked for understanding

More depth than I could have imagined
  Duane Little (Washington, DC) on October 21, 2011
  I had no idea the Science Object entitled "Cells-The Basis of Life" would take me as deeply into the subject as it did. Terms like blastula, gastrula, mesoderm, endoderm and the like were foreign to me. The concepts that these terms described and how they impacted the formation of organs was all new to me. The object was extremely enlightening and opened my eyes to a world of new knowledge that awaits me as I explore other scipacks!

New Twist on Old Ideas
  Matthew (Galloway, OH) on June 8, 2010
  I really appreciated the organization and approach that the authors/contributors took in the layout and presentation of this SciPack. I will definitely be incorporating several of the ideas put forth in this resource in class. My only complaint is that the "check" buttons did not provide me with any feeback. I'm on a Mac.