This lab is all about introducing the Characteristics of Life. Students do not need any exposure to the topic prior to completing the lab. I used to do this as an "opening" activity to the unit.
Students start by defining what they feel it means to be "alive" and as a class they choose 5 characteristics to represent life. They will then analyze (observational) several specimen to determine if they meet the qualifications the class chose to represent their characteristics of life.
If a living specimen "lacks" one of the classes chosen characteristics it must not be a characteristic of life.
You will need to find materials to use for each station, which can be catered to your age group.
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