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Introduction to What is Alive?

<p><strong>Fig. 1.1.</strong> <em>Volvox</em> sp., a freshwater alga viewed through a compound light microscope</p><br />

Biology is the scientific study of life and living organisms. An organism is any single individual life form. Organisms cover the earth from the highest mountain peak to the deepest ocean trench. They vary greatly in size, shape, and lifestyle. The smallest organisms are so small that they cannot be seen with the unaided human eye. Microscopes are needed to view them (Fig. 1.1).


Some organisms, like plants and algae, can make their own food. Other organisms, like horses and humans, need to eat other living organisms to survive. There is also a lot of variation in how long organisms live. Bristlecone pine trees may live for thousands of years, whereas many bacteria are born, reproduce, and die within a few hours.


Ocean Literacy Principles

Principle 5: The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: Ocean life ranges in size from the smallest virus to the largest animal that has lived on Earth, the blue whale (OLP 5a).


To build an understanding of the ocean as a dominant feature on earth, it is important to understand that, although the ocean has many basins, these basins are interconnected and their boundaries are not clearly defined.


These concepts will be explored in this unit through the following activities and investigations:


Activity: Is It Alive?

Form a working definition of alive.


Activity: Modeling Evolution

Model natural selection in a population of bacteria.


Activity: Simulate Natural Selection

Model how variation in prey color and predator foraging affects survival and reproduction of a prey population.


Activity: What’s in a Name?

Create names for 15 species of sharks and compare them with the actual scientific and common names.


Activity: Identifying Butterflyfish Using Dichotomous Keys

Use a dichotomous key to identify butterflyfish species.

Table of Contents:

Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.