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Investigation 1: What is Life?. At the end of Investigation 1 you will be able to:. list and describe the characteristics that all organisms share. differentiate the concepts of living, nonliving, dead and dormant. make and record observations in an experiment. . Investigation 1 - Part 1.

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at the end of investigation 1 you will be able to
At the end of Investigation 1 you will be able to:
  • list and describe the characteristics that all organisms share.
  • differentiate the concepts of living, nonliving, dead and dormant.
  • make and record observations in an experiment.
quick write
Quick Write

What is life?

  • Make a tree map for the following information. Your title would be “Living vs. Nonliving”

-How can you tell if something is living or nonliving?

-Name and describe some examples for each.


How can you explain what you observed?

Why do you think that the objects moved the way that they did?


Evidence of Life

  • How many of you think you can tell if something is living?
  • What evidence can you look for to tell if something is living?
living non living cards
Living/ non-living cards

You will work with your partner to sort cards into “living” and “non-living” piles. If you cannot agree, put the card in a third “undecided” pile.

living non living c ards
Living/ Non-living Cards

1. Partner A picks up a card and places it into a pile. Explain why you are classifying it as living or non-living, be specific.

2. Partner B picks up the second card and does the same thing.

3. Record your answers on Lab page 1.

add pictures to board
Add pictures to board.
  • Call on one group for each picture.
  • Then ask:

-Does everyone agree that this is in the correct category?

-Could it be placed in a different category? Why?

-What might lead someone to think it belonged there?

sort as a class
Sort as a class

Why are these things categorized as they are?

This is a work in progress and we will make changes as we see fit.

what is an organism
What is an organism?

Any living thing- plant, animal or other- is an organism. An organism is the most general word used to refer to an independently living thing.


Let’s refer back to our ‘Evidence of Life’ list…

  • Is everything on this list a characteristic of allorganisms?
  • Do we need to add anything?

We will be observing many organisms and it is important to provide them with the proper habitat. Some are small aquatic organisms. We will set up a minipond habitat now so that it will be nicely aged and ready in a couple of weeks when it is time to start our work with aquatic organisms.


a. Place one spoon of soil in the bottom of a half-liter container.

b. Add dry leaves, dead grass, and twigs. The container should be no more than one-fourth full.

c. Add water. The container should be no more than

three-fourths full.

d. Put a lid on the container.

e. Label the container with your period, group number, and



evidence of life1
Evidence of Life
  • Are there any changes that need to be made?
  • See other PPT. Add to part 3 of sheet.
  • This will be our operational definition of life and we will make changes as we gather new information.

You will be observing five different materials. They might be living, but we are not sure! We have our characteristics of life chart as guidance, let’s see what we can find out!

you need
You need:
  • 2 hand lenses
  • A set of 5 bags


Observe and record your observations on Lab page 3.


What might you do to get more information about the materials to help you determine if they are living?


We will run an investigation to determine if an aquatic or moist environment will help us to determine whether these five materials are alive or not.


We will examine three different liquid environments. Each group will research ONE of the three liquids.


Person closest to door in your group must obtain the following:

  • 5 vials with caps
  • 1 blue vial holder
  • 1 cotton ball

Label vials A, B, C, D and E

  • Label the piece of tape and stick on vial holder with your group number, period, and liquid #.
  • Person closest to sink, get the correct cup of liquid for your table (on next slide)
  • . Who knows our table numbers? I’ll call on someone to review.

Group 1- Liquid 1

Group 2- Liquid 2

Group 3- Liquid 3

Group 4- Liquid 1

Group 5- Liquid 2

Group 6- Liquid 3

Group 7- Liquid 1

Group 8 – Liquid 2


Read the directions carefully as we don’t have extra materials if mistakes are made. Work slowly please.

Vials A and D get half a cotton ball and 3 droppers full of the liquid.

Vials B, C, and E get 30 mL of the liquid.


Material A- 1 minispoon into vial A

Material B- 1 minispoon into vial B

Material C- 8 grains into vial C

Material D- 8 grains into vial D

Material E- 1 minispoon into vial E

10 minute countdown
10 minute countdown

Any changes to the picture sort?

Any changes to our Characteristics of Life display?


Record any changes on your

Five Materials Observation Sheet.


Changes after 24 hours

Please record your observations.


Did you notice any changes today?

Do you see evidence of life in any of the vials?

Circulate and compare the vials with different liquids.


Liquid 2 is sugar and water. Sugar was added to provide food in case any of the materials was alive and needed sugar as food.

Did any of the vials with the sugar water provide interesting results?


Material B is yeast. The bubbling and popping of the cap are the result of gas exchange going on in the vial. Gas exchange is evidence of life. The yeast is living.

take a look at the plant cutting and the potato
Take a look at the plant cutting and the potato.
  • Are these things alive? Are they organisms?
  • What will they need if they are living?

Changes after 48 hours

Please record your observations.

Any evidence of life?

the liquids
The Liquids…

Liquid 1- Salt water

Liquid 2- Sugar water

Liquid 3- Water

the unknowns
The Unknowns

A: Red sand


C: Polyacrylate crystals

D:Radish Seeds

E: Brine shrimp eggs


The crystals are probably coming from the "super absorbent layer" found in most disposable diapers. This layer consists of paper fluff and a chemical absorbent called sodium polyacrylate. Sodium polyacrylate is an amazing water absorber -- it can absorb 200 to 300 times its weight in tap water (even more if the water is distilled) and hold it in a gooey gel.


Please fill in the information for the liquid environment that you investigated on Lab page 5.

We will share our information.


How many of the materials appeared to be alive when you first observed the bags?

  • How many materials appear to be alive now?
  • How does the environment impact organisms?
some organisms are inactive until placed in the appropriate environment
Some organisms are inactive until placed in the appropriate environment.
  • Yeast needs fresh water and sugar for food.
  • Seeds need freshwater and air.
  • Brine shrimp need saltwater.

Things are LIVING if they show the characteristics of life, like gas exchange, growth, and response to the environment. Living things are organisms. Parts of living organisms, like arms, tails and leaves, are also alive.


Things are DORMANT when they do not show characteristics of life until they are placed in the right environment. Dormant organisms are alive, but inactive.


Things are DEAD if they were alive at one time but no longer are. Animals that have died, leaves that have fallen off trees, and skin that a snake sheds are all dead material.


NONLIVING materials have never been alive. Fire, rocks, water, wind, pencils, toys, and computers are all nonliving.




Please read Life on Earth on page 21 in the Diversity of Life Resources book and answer the questions at the end of the activity.