Living Organisms

Students learn about the functions and structures of all living organisms.

Introduction

How do we know if something is alive – this is a question that has sparked controversy in the world. Early humans often used empirical data (data they can see) to classify objects. Today, we generally still follow this philosophy. So ask yourself, what makes something living?

Functions and Structures

All living organisms have specific structures and functions that scientists have agreed to define a living organism.

  • Energy
    • All living things need to procure energy in some fashion. For example, animals eat to obtain energy, while plants use photosynthesis to create energy.
  • Environment
    • Living things need an environment that is conducive to life. Plants need areas with plenty of sunlight, likewise, bats and other nocturnal animals need the mask of night to hide them while they hunt. These organisms adapted to their environment. Think about how the structures in their body that enable them to live in these environments.
  • Reproduction
    • All living things need some way of reproducing. Animals like wolves have pups, while most plants reproduce using some form of seed. What structures allow them to reproduce using different methodologies?
  • Growth
    • Living things grow and change over time. A seedling can transform into a dandelion, likewise, a wolf pup will grow up into an adult wolf. Think about the structures in the body that enable this growth.
  • Wastes
    • All living things produce some form of wastes from their bodily processes. For example, animals, like humans, expel carbon dioxide during their respiration process. They also process urine and feces as part of their digestive systems. Plants also give off waste gases, thinking back to elementary and grade 7 science, what do you think plants expel as a waste product?

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