This week in Science, we learned some basics about organisms.
Our goal for the class was to sort a cartful ofitems into two categories – ‘organism’ and ‘not an organism.’
Organism is just another word for ‘living thing.’ Something that is not a living thing is not an organism.
If something is a living thing, it:
1) comes from other living things (like the chimpanzee)
2) can grow and change (like the Monarch caterpillar)
3) can reproduce (make more living things like itself – a bird laid the eggs, and more birds will hatch out of them)
4) needs food / water / air / energy (like the geranium)
The first item was something hiding under a little blanket. The blanket was moving around in a very mysterious way. Most of the children said it must be alive because it was moving.
What could be under there? It turned out to be a toy motor…
not an organism.
The second item was a potato.
It didn’t look like it is alive. But it will grow and change if we plant and water it – and then we might end up with more potatoes – so, it is alive.
Next up…a rock. It looked a lot like the potato.
The rock won’t grow or change if we plant and water it. No matter what, it won’t have baby rocks. So it wasn’t really like the potato. It isn’t an organism.
The rock was followed by a wind-up crab that had a face and could walk sideways, but didn’t grow or eat.
Next up…an acorn.
It didn’t move – so we thought it might not be alive, but we knew that it came from a tree and that it would grow into an oak tree if we planted it, so we figured out that it was a living thing.
There was a bunny which moved and looked like it might be alive
and some of us were a bit worried it might hop around on the floor, but it was just a puppet…not an organism.
Next, we took a look at a pine cone. We knew that you could find them on the ground and that they fell off of a tree.
It turns out that there are seeds inside, and if you were to plant one, you could grow a new pine tree. That tree would eventually grow pine cones, which would fall to the ground. The seeds inside the pine cones are organisms.
There was a strange cylinder that was somewhat like a hamster ball. There appeared to be something inside of it. Alive? We weren’t sure. It would roll a few feet in one direction and then reverse course and roll back the other way.
When we opened it up, we found a rubber band attached to a little container filled with pennies.
Definitely not an organism.
(it was really fun, but wasn’t alive),
and a lima bean.
It didn’t move, but it will grow and change if we plant and water it – and then we might end up with more beans. Alive.
And, there was me. I do need to eat, and I’ve grown since I was a baby, and I have parents and a child (we looked at pictures that prove it).
Therefore – I am a living thing.
Finally, we looked at a jar full of objects that we didn’t recognize.
They were dried milkweed seed pods.
Milkweed is the only thing that monarch butterfly caterpillars eat, so milkweed is a pretty important plant. We looked at some pictures of milkweed plants.
Here is what’s inside the pod:
Every one of the seeds is a living thing that floats away on a little parachute.
Each has the potential to grow into a new plant. More organisms.
Today we began to understand a very tricky concept.
We can’t tell if something is a living thing based on its movement. Moving things are not always living things, while things that don’t move may actually be living things.
Something to ponder…
See you next week,