Cells and Chemical Reactions: Basics of Metabolism

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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 Cells and Chemical Reactions SciPack. It investigates the basics of cellular metabolisms in plants and animals.

Chemical reactions occur in all cells, are fundamental to cell functions, and are essential to maintain the chemical and physical organization of living systems. All living organisms engage in metabolic processes that take place inside their cells. Metabolism refers to all of the chemical activities and reactions in cells and organisms that are necessary for life. Metabolic processes can be categorized into two types, which are distinguished by their function in growth and maintenance of living cells: synthesis, chemical reactions that use energy to synthesize large and complex carbon-based molecules from smaller molecules; decomposition, chemical reactions that release energy from chemical bonds by decomposing the large molecules into smaller, simpler and lower-energy molecules. The energy released in decomposition is used to synthesize large molecules and in other cellular work, including: movement, maintenance and organization, transport of molecules, and transmission of nerve impulses. A large set of protein catalysts, called enzymes are required for both synthesis and decomposition chemical reactions. Because all matter tends toward disorganized states, constant input of energy is required by all cells to maintain chemical and physical organization. Without this organization, cells and organisms die, and with death (the cessation of energy input) living systems rapidly disintegrate.

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Reviews (9)
  • on Sat Apr 18, 2015 6:55 AM

This is a good introduction to the big idea of transformation of energy in living things. It compliments the science object of transformation of energy in the physical science objects and the earth science objects.

Robin Willig  (Rye Brook, NY)
Robin Willig (Rye Brook, NY)

  • on Tue Sep 02, 2014 5:15 AM

I really enjoy Science Objects. In 1-3 hours, the Cells and Chemical Reactions: Basics of Metabolism Science Object 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!

Naomi Beverly  (Marietta, GA)
Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA)

  • on Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:19 PM

This Sci Object does a great job of setting the groundwork for metabolism and the chemical reactions related to it through a clear definition of what energy is and why we use it. The object has interactive portions that show how exactly a reaction takes place and also includes knowledge checks so that you can be sure that you understood the information presented. This was a great way for me to explore a topic that I am interested in and to build off of a knowledge base that began 13 years ago in high school anatomy and physiology.

Tarah H
Tarah H

  • on Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:29 PM

Starts with explaining energy then moved to explaining the basics of metabolism. Lots of helpful diagrams and visuals to help with understanding. I learned a lot and could easily adapt this into a lesson.

Jerica Schatz
Jerica Schatz

  • on Sun Nov 25, 2012 10:06 AM

This Object provides an excellent general description of metabolism and the roles of enzymes. It uses analogies and diagrams that progress in degree of complexity of a concept that help you build understanding effectively. Many of the figures and questions can be directly and immediately applied to a classroom lesson.

Christian Nowell  (New York, NY)
Christian Nowell (New York, NY)

  • on Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:08 PM

I have learned much about metabolism from the perspective this sci-object presents.

Ronaldo Relador  (Bowie, MD)
Ronaldo Relador (Bowie, MD)

  • on Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:06 PM

A great focus on one of the bases of life - metabolism.

Ronaldo Relador  (Bowie, MD)
Ronaldo Relador (Bowie, MD)

  • on Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:01 PM

Great cellular metabolism fundamental knowledge! Once again I am amazed at the extraordinary depth and clarity these NSTA Science Objects provide; I love self-paced learning and these Science Objects are wonderful tools. I am truly hooked on this opportunity to acquire content knowledge in this fashion!

Duane Little  (Washington, DC)
Duane Little (Washington, DC)

  • on Mon Apr 09, 2012 4:01 PM

This was a good start for those just beginning.

Sandi  (Crowley, TX)
Sandi (Crowley, TX)

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