Life Cycle - Organisms (4A)
Pre Lab 

  • Exploring the components of a cell.
  • Investigating animal cells.
  • cell
  • cytoplasm
  • nucleus
  • organelle
  • worksheet
  • crayons
  • Internet

Students use a worksheet to compare plant and animal cells.



Cells are the fundamental units of all organisms. Some organisms made up of only one cell, but many more organisms are made of billions of cells. A cell is a packaged power plant that maintains all necessary functions in order to stay alive. All cells have certain components that enable them to carry out vital life processes. There are several different types of specialized cells, but emphasize to students the basic structure of the cell.

A cell has several components that perform different functions. The vital parts of a cell are called "organelles." Among the most important are the nucleus, vacuoles, and mitochondria, all of which are enclosed within the cell membrane and immersed in cytoplasm.

Each organelle performs a specific task that helps keep the cell alive. In both an animal and plant cell, the nucleus, vacuoles, mitochondrion, cell membranes, and cytoplasm can be found.

The nucleus is the control center of cell activity and contains the genetic material that is important for cell division. The structures that resemble air bubbles are called vacuoles. Some vacuoles store food for future use while other store wastes until they are removed. Since the cell is a living entity, it needs energy. The energy that a cell uses is produced in the mitochondrion which releases sugar and starches that is used as fuel by the cell. Most of the parts of the cell are surrounded by a cell membrane. The function of the membrane is to allow only certain fluids and chemicals into and out of the cell. Cells contain a thick substance called cytoplasm which is capable of maintaining the life processes. The name of the protoplasm within the nucleus is called nucleoplasm.

A plant cell also contains chloroplasts and a cell wall. Chloroplasts are the photosynthesis center of a plant cell. It converts light into energy. It contains chlorophyll which gives it the green color we associate with plants. The cell wall gives plant cell a rigid support and protects the cell.

  1. There are various differences between animal and plant. The worksheet shows the different types of cells and has the students comparing and contrasting the various parts. The major difference between the cells is that plant cells have a cell wall, chloroplasts, and larger food vacuoles.
  2. Instruct students to color the worksheet in the appropriate colors. Remember the plant cell should contain green.
  3. The website, can help your students learn more about the different components of a plant and animal cell.

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