Cell Structure and Function: Cells – The Basis of Life

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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 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.

  • Elementary
  • Middle

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Reviews (22)
  • on Sun Oct 22, 2017 8:40 PM

This is great and can be modified for multiple grade levels.

Randi Johnson
Randi Johnson

  • on Thu Apr 02, 2015 7:21 PM

This is a good introduction to the study of living things and their classification groups.

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

  • on Mon Sep 01, 2014 6:51 PM

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!

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

  • on Mon Aug 18, 2014 3:57 PM

excellent source

Jo Inserra  (Utica, NY)
Jo Inserra (Utica, NY)

  • on Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:14 AM

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).

Lorrie Armfield  (Laurel, MD)
Lorrie Armfield (Laurel, MD)

  • on Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:24 AM

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.

Angelika Fairweather  (Bradenton, FL)
Angelika Fairweather (Bradenton, FL)

  • on Tue Feb 01, 2011 6:52 PM

It was great for my class. the graphics are really good

Paulette Burdett
Paulette Burdett

  • on Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:53 PM

This is another general overview assessment that can even breakdown where you went wrong, good to know!

Sherene McDonald
Sherene McDonald

  • on Wed Nov 10, 2010 9:35 PM

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.


  • on Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:03 PM

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!!


  • on Tue Jul 14, 2009 2:09 PM

The information was presented in the appropriate order. I loved the microscopic pics that were used during the lesson.

Jerry P  (Fuquay Varina, NC)
Jerry P (Fuquay Varina, NC)

  • on Thu Jun 04, 2009 2:28 PM

Cell Structure and Function: Cells – The Basis of Life

marwa khemir  (, )
marwa khemir (, )

  • on Mon Jan 14, 2008 4:09 PM

This is great and can be modified for multiple grade levels.


  • on Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:51 PM

This was a great overview of Cells and the structure and functions


  • on Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:57 PM

great overview for a first time teacher but still had some information that was a bit difficult


  • on Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:10 AM

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.

Matt Lawton  (Zeeland, MI)
Matt Lawton (Zeeland, MI)

  • on Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:41 AM

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.

Emily Keeter  (Northbrook, IL)
Emily Keeter (Northbrook, IL)

  • on Wed Dec 28, 2011 12:37 PM

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.


  • on Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:52 PM

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.

Barbara Ryan
Barbara Ryan

  • on Tue Nov 22, 2011 7:26 PM

This was a good page to view, I like how it broke down the entire lesson and checked for understanding

kelly  (brewster, NY)
kelly (brewster, NY)

  • on Fri Oct 21, 2011 5:35 PM

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!

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

  • on Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:20 PM

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.

Matthew  (Galloway, OH)
Matthew (Galloway, OH)

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