What is life?
Biology is the study of life. But how do you know if something is living or not? Listed below are simple demos that I show my classes. The items listed provide room for discussion as to what is living and what is not living.
- A lit candle.
- A container of dried lima and pinto beans (or any other type of seed).
- A cutting of a plant in a bottle of water--I use croton from the bushes outside my classroom.
- Baking soda added to vinegar.
- Yeast with water and sugar.
- "Resurrection" plant (#15-7010, available from Carolina Biological Co.). Plant curls up when dry and unfurls when wet.
- Drops of Duco cement in water. (put water in a petri dish and place on an overhead projector for the best effect)
THINGS TO DISCUSS/THINK ABOUT
- The abstract definition of life: "The process by which an organism reaches death."
- The operational definition of life: "In an organism, a condition in which there is reproduction, growth, development, metabolism, use of energy, excretion, response to stimuli and composition of cells."
- Key words: reproduction, metabolism, cells, consciousness, being, organism, growth, energy animate survival, reality, organic, development, response, existence, vitality, death, evolution.
- What is life?
- What components make up a living thing?
- What do living things need to survive?
- What is the opposite of life?
- Where does life begin?
- Where does life end?
- Is it moral to take someone else's life? (abortion? capital punishment?)
- How many lives does a living thing have?
- Do you believe in reincarnation?
- Is a car a living thing?
- How do you know if you are living?
- Is there life in outer space?
- Do you believe in life after death?
- Can we alter the quality of life? (genetic engineering, pollution, etc. . . )
- Related topics:
astronomy, extraterrestrials, euthanasia, abortion, depression, suicide, capital punishment, Adam and Eve, mitochondrial DNA, genetic engineering . . .