Looking for a way to teach students about cells, cell parts/organelles in a creative way using the NGSS standards? Then this is the resource for you! This 5 day mini-unit addresses the Next Generation Science Standard MS-LS1-2. Develop and use a model to describe the function of a cell as a whole and ways the parts of cells contribute to the function. It covers the following DCI: LS1.A: Structure and Function. Within cells, special structures are responsible for particular functions, and the cell membrane forms the boundary that controls what enters and leaves the cell.
This ready-to-go engaging and creative activity introduces students to the parts of the cell (organelles) and their functions. They use analogies to describe the cell as a whole and for each organelle’s function. Then, they construct their analogy on paper with a key explaining how each analogy relates to the function of the cell part. Finally, students choose three real cell organelles and explain how they are connected to one another and allow the cell to function as a whole. Includes student worksheets, teacher answer keys and examples, and a grading rubric!
Day one: Students are challenged to research the main parts of the plant and animal cells and record the function of each organelle, specifically the cell membrane, nucleus, cytoplasm, cell wall, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, golgi apparatus/bodies, endoplasmic reticulum, ribosomes, lysosomes, chloroplast, and vacuole. Also, they use a color code on the worksheet to identify and label the parts on pictures of the cells. Teacher can use the provided answer key to review answers. Depending on time, this may be a two day activity.
Day two: The students are then instructed to create analogies for the cell as a whole as well as the individual cell parts. A teacher example is provided using the company FedEx and a few examples can be shared with students. If students are stuck, there are suggestions for analogies for the cell that include a hospital, the North Pole, post office, school, farm, grocery store, etc. Depending on time, this may be a two day activity.
Examples of analogies include: nucleus = Mr. Nicholas, the boss who controls all main events (nucleus contains the DNA and instructs the cell what to do), vacuole = Vac Break Room, the area that holds water and food for the employees to keep them working (vacuole holds extra molecules like food and water), lysosomes = Lysol Quality Controllers decide if the facility is functioning properly and if not shuts them down (lysosomes contain molecules that can kill the cell when needed and digest large pieces of food sometimes), and chloroplasts = solar panels that are found only in specific FedEx plants and is used to make energy beyond the boiler room/mitochondria (chloroplasts are found only in plant cells and is where sunlight is absorbed for photosynthesis to occur, etc.)
Day three: Students draw and label a diagram of their entire “cell” and the “jobs” both as the real organelles and the analogy that includes a key which explains what its function is as well as the organelle it is an analogy for.
Day four: Students choose three real cell organelles and explain how they are connected to one another and allow the cell to function as a whole using their cell organelles notes and analogies to help them. This becomes part of their grade together with the diagram. The rubric can be used for both!
Day five: Students share their analogies! Students turn in for a grade and teacher grades them using the provided rubric.
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