Is It Alive?The Big Ideas
Essential QuestionHow can you use the scientific method to determine if something is living or non-living?AssignmentsCharacteristics of Living ThingsGOAL: Learn the characteristics that all livings share.You know that a cat is alive, but how do you know? Most students will say "because it moves!" But a rosebush is alive too, and when was the last time you saw a rosebush move? So what do a cat and a rosebush have in common? Follow the steps below to discover the characteristics of living things:
- All living things have certain characteristics in common.
- Scientists use experiments and careful observations to answer questions.
The Nature of ScienceWhat are scientists like? How do they think? What do they do? (Pay attention to the process they use to answer questions.) Find out by reading the article "The Nature of Science." (Handout available in class) As you read, underline the characteristics of scientists in blue, green, or purple. Underline parts of the scientific method in red, orange, or yellow.Not sure what is a characteristic and what is a method? This might help:
- In your science notebook, brainstorm as many things as you can think of that are true about all living things. Organize your thoughts in an appropriate thinking map.
- Read Chapter 2 Section 1 in your Holt Life Science textbook. Get an overview first by reading just the headings and subheadings; then read the entire text. Don't forget to read the captions that go with the pictures. As you read, take Cornell Notes in your notebook (right side and summary only; we'll do the rest later as reviews).
The Scientific MethodWhat is the scientific method? How do we use it to answer questions about living things? Read about it and practice identifying the different elements of the scientific method by reading page 220 in your Holt Life Science textbook. On a copy of that page, underline the different elements of the scientific method in different colors:
- Scientists are __________. (If you can make this sentence with a word or phrase, it is a characteristic of scientists. Ex: Scientist are careful.)
- Scientists ____________. (If your sentence explains what a scientist does, it is about the scientific method. Ex: Scientists make careful observations.)
Scientist IllustrationWhat characteristics does a scientist have? How do scientists think? Solve problems? You read about this in "The Nature of Science" handout you received, and you also read about the scientific method on page 220. Create a picture that shows the qualities of scientists and how they use the scientific method.ILLUSTRATEYou may create any one of the following:
- Question - Red
- Hypothesis - Orange
- Experiment (Procedure) - Yellow
- Data (observations made during the experiment) - Green
- Conclusion - Blue
EXPLAINWhichever method you choose, you must also include an explanation of how your picture or pictures illustrate the information requested. This may be 2-3 paragraphs or you may write a good caption, using complete sentences, for each characteristic / method.OTHER REQUIREMENTS FOR FINAL DRAFT
- A single illustration of a scientist with details to show the characteristics and/or scientific method
- A collage with several pictures illustrating the various characteristics and/or parts of the scientific method
- A slide show with several pictures illustrating the various characteristics and/or parts of the scientific method
Learn to Use a MicroscopeGOAL: After you complete the virtual lesson, take a prepared microscope slide to the microscopes and get the specimen into focus.(Note: As you work, take notes in your science notebook that will help you when you go use the actual microscope.)
- Illustration must be in color.
- All writing must be in pen or colored pencil.
- Illustration and writing should fit on one sheet of paper (if it is on paper).
- Submit electronic assignments through Canvas.
Is It Alive? CellsGOAL: Prepare a wet-mount slide with our specimen on it. Observe it under the microscope to see if it is made of cells.(Note: In your notebook, begin your lab report by writing your background, question and hypothesis. As you watch the instructional video, add the materials and procedure to your report. Finally, when you make your slide, add the data section to your report where you will draw and describe what our specimen looks like under the microscope.)How will you know if our specimen looks like cells? Before examining your own slide, check out this slideshow of pictures of living and non-living things under a microscope. Make notes in your notebook comparing the what the two look like under the microscope. This section of your lab report is called "Background."Is our specimen made of cells? Let’s examine it under the microscope. To find out how, watch this short video on “Preparing a Microscope Slide.” This type of slide is called a wet-mount slide. (Note: You can use this same procedure to answer other questions like: Could there be bacteria or a paramecium in that pond water? Is there fungus in the soil?) Write your notes in the "Procedure" section of your lab report in your notebook.
- Most cells are extremely small. How small? Check out the “Cell Size and Scale” interactive animation to compare the size of different cells and molecules to a coffee bean and even a single grain of salt!
- So how do we see something so small? You can’t see it with just your eye. You need a microscope. To understand how to use it, start by learning the names of the parts. The Microscope Parts study set on Quizlet will help you a lot. You don't need to have all the names memorized, just go through them a couple of times to get familiar with them.
- Once you are familiar with the names, complete the tutorial (“Getting Started”) on the Virtual Microscope. To begin, click on "start tour." Be sure to click on each part of the process to learn how it works. Start with "control lighting;" then watch "pick a slide," and so on until you have watched them all. While you work, take Cornell notes.
- After the tutorial, select a virtual slide and place it on the virtual microscope. Use your notes to help you to get it into focus. Switch to the high-power objective and get it into focus there. Congratulations! Now you're ready for the real thing!
- If you still have time, get a prepared slide from your teacher and take it to one of the real microscopes. Get your specimen into focus the same way you did on the virtual microscope.
Now, prepare your own slide and place it under the microscope. Do you see anything that looks like a cell? Draw and describe what you see. You do not need to draw the entire slide you see, just draw 3 or 4 bits of the specimen in detail (no general sketches). This goes in the "Data" section of your lab report.Now draw your conclusion. Is our specimen made of cells? Use the "How to Write a Lab Report" reference page to make sure you have written a complete conclusion.(If you were not able to make a slide, here are photos of our specimen under the microscope.)
Be sure to wipe up any spilt water or specimen. Throw away any tissues or other material you used to prepare the slide or clean up. Use a wet-erase marker to label the slide with your table and period number; then give it to your teacher.Is It Alive? DNA ExtractionGOAL: Attempt a DNA extraction to see if our specimen contains DNA.(Note: In your notebook, begin your lab report by writing your background, question and hypothesis. I will give you the materials and procedure.)All living things have DNA. Does our specimen have DNA? Find out by trying to extract DNA from it. Do you remember what DNA looks like when you extract it? If not, take a minute to re-read “Michelles Ivestigation” on your science skills activity page.Before you begin your experiment, watch these videos to learn how to measure using a graduated cylinder. You will also need to know how to carefully pour a layer of liquid on top of another layer of liquid.The DNA extraction lab directions should be in your lab tray. Before you begin the experiment, write the lab title, question, and hypothesis into your notebook, and set up a data section to record your data.(You may use the photos from the agenda to refresh your memory of what you observed, and you may copy and paste one of these images into your report.)