CHARACTERISTICS OF LIFE
It is essential for students to know the characteristics that separate living organisms from nonliving things. All living organisms share the following characteristics:
They obtain and use resources for energy
● All organisms must obtain resources, such as food, oxygen, and water, which provide required energy to perform the basic processes of life, such as growing and developing, or repairing injured parts.
● Autotrophs (for example plants) provide their own food for energy through the process of photosynthesis, while heterotrophs (for example animals) must find an external source for food.
● Energy is released from food in most organisms through the process of respiration.
They respond to stimuli
● A stimulus is any change in an organism’s surroundings that will cause the organism to react.
● Examples of environmental stimuli may be changes in the following: amount of light, temperature, sound, amount of water, space, amounts or types of food, or other organisms present.
● The reaction to the stimulus is called a response. It can be an action or behavior performed by the organism.
● Organisms have the ability to reproduce, or produce offspring that have similar characteristics as the parent(s). There are two basic types of reproduction:
○ Asexual reproduction - a process that involves only one parent and produces offspring that is identical to the parent.
○ Sexual reproduction - a process that involves two parents. The egg (female reproductive cell) and sperm (male reproductive cell) from these two parents combine to make an offspring that has characteristics of both parents.
They grow and develop
● Growth is the process whereby the organism becomes larger (has an increase in height, mass, and/or overall size).
● Development is the process that occurs in the life of the organism that results in the organism becoming more complex structurally.
● Organisms require energy to grow and develop.
The students can obtain and communicate information about cellular activities that support claims that cells are part of an organism's growth and development process.
The objective of this indicator is to obtain and communicate information to support claims that living organisms (1) obtain and use resources for energy, (2) respond to stimuli, (3) reproduce, and (4) grow and develop. Therefore, the primary focus of assessment should be for students to obtain and communicate information (from investigations and primary and secondary sources) that supports claims that living things have special characteristics and processes that are not present in non-living things. This could include but is not limited to students conducting a controlled investigation to obtain data from charting plant growth, observing the environmental preference of earthworm or snails (wet vs. dry soil, well-lit area vs. dark area, etc.), or evaluating how yeast, in warm water, respond to various amounts of sugar.
In addition to obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information students should ask questions, plan and carry out investigations, analyze and interpret data, use mathematics and computational thinking, engage in argument from evidence, construct explanations, develop and use models, and construct devices or design solutions.
6.L.4A Conceptual Understanding: Life is the quality that differentiates living things (organisms) from nonliving objects or those that were once living. All organisms are made up of cells, need food and water, a way to dispose of waste, and an environment in which they can live. Because of the diversity of life on Earth, scientists have developed a way to organize groups of organisms according to their characteristic traits, making it easier toidentify and study them.
Thank you to Cathy Baran of OBMS for this Close Read Activity for "The Characteristics of Life",
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