Cells


This collection of videos, images, and documents will help students gain an understanding of several aspects of cells. Students will learn about the parts of the cell, cellular division, and basic cell function.

  • Cell Differentiation

    How does a single fertilized egg grow to become a fully formed human being? Many of the most critical stages happen in the first few days following conception. In this video segment from The Secret of Life, a fertilized egg cell progresses from its earliest stages through cell differentiation and ultimately the development of an embryo, with simple but identifiable body parts including a spinal cord, a heart, and eyes.

    This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions. 

    Grades: 6-12
  • How Cancer Cells Grow and Divide

    Discover the role of oncogenes in uncontrolled cancerous growth and depicts the journey of cancer cells from where they originate, into the circulatory system, and then on to other parts of the body. This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Mitochondrial Flyover

    Mitochondria play host to one of the most important processes in your body: cellular respiration. This process uses oxygen to transform glucose into energy-rich molecules of a substance called ATP. This video segment presents an animated "flyover" of a mitochondrion to illustrate in detail the structures that make this critical process possible.

    This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Nucleus, Cytoplasm, Membrane

    What constitutes a cell? More than any other structures, it's the nucleus, cytoplasm, and membrane. Explore the form and function of these three critical cell parts in this video segment adapted from Carolina Biological Supply's An Introduction to the Living Cell.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Organelles in the Cytoplasm

    For the longest time, scientists couldn't imagine how simple cells managed to perform so many amazing tasks in living organisms. It turns out that cells aren't simple at all. Much like complex organisms with organs that perform specific tasks, cells have many organelles that keep them functioning properly. Explore some of a cell's most important structures in this video segment from An Introduction to the Living Cell.

    Grades: 9-12
  • NOVA | Photosynthesis

    An exploration of the history of plant biology from NOVAEarth. This segment takes the viewer from the earliest scientific hypotheses that plants ate dirt, to our present-day understanding of photosynthesis, the process by which plants use the sun's energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates, a storable form of chemical energy.

    Grades: 3-8
  • The Powerhouse of the Cell

    Mitochondria play host to one of the most important processes in your body: cellular respiration. Taking in glucose and oxygen, mitochondria produce energy, which they capture and package as energy-rich molecules of ATP. This video describes the structure and functions that give mitochondria their nickname: the powerhouses of the cell.

    This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions. 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Transforming Bacteria

    In this animation produced by WGBH and Digizyme, Inc., learn about bacterial transformation, the process by which DNA plasmids are introduced into a bacterial cell's genome. The animation presents the physical challenges of getting the plasmids through the cell's plasma membrane and the "heat shock" technique used to overcome them. It also shows how researchers test for successful transformations using experimental and negative control plates. This resource is part of the Biotechnology collection.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Cell Replication

    Students explore the structure and function of cells and mitosis.

    Grades: 6-8
  • Cell Replication and Cancerous Cells

    Students explore mitosis and learn about uncontrolled cell division, or cancer.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Cellular Structure and Function

    In this activity, students will explore the structure and function of the cell.  They will also consider the cell as the common unit of life, mitosis, and specialization.

    Grades: 6-8,13+
  • High School: Cellular Structure and Function

    Students explore cell structures, the role of the membrane, and the similarities and differences among specialized cells.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Muscles and Mitochondria

    In this lesson plan, students learn about the role of mitochondria in a cell's energy production.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Cell Explorer

    This interactive activity adapted from the Exploratorium illustrates and describes the role of several important cell structures. Much like organs enable multicellular organisms to function normally, organelles enable cells to obtain and process energy, produce vital proteins, and replicate their genetic material, passing their instructions for life on to the next generation of cells.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Cell Membrane: Just Passing Through

    There may be a dozen different types of materials passing through the membrane of a cell at any one time. The job of the membrane is to regulate this movement in order to maintain the proper balance of ions, water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, nutrients, and other molecules. This interactive feature illustrates the movement of some of these materials and describes the structures that make it possible.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Cellular Service

    In order to survive, every living cell in the body needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients and needs to have wastes removed. In this interactive game, you'll follow a small sample of blood as it travels throughout the body. The goal is to keep a few cells located at the tip of the nose alive and healthy. At various locations within the body -- locations that include the lungs, small intestine, pancreas, lymph nodes, and the target cells -- you will need to pick up or deliver oxygen, nutrients, hormones, carbon dioxide, and bacteria.

    Grades: 5-8,13+
  • How Cancer Grows

    Cancer is not a single disease but rather more than 100 types of disease. Yet all cancer begins with a genetic mutation within a body cell and advances when the cell's descendants mutate further. The following step through from NOVA Online shows the progression of a malignant tumor, ending with metastasis, the colonization of tumors throughout the body. It focuses on the most common type of cancer, a carcinoma, which can originate in the skin, breast, prostate, and other organs.

    This interactive activity requires Adobe Flash Player.

    Grades: 6-12
  • How Cells Divide: Mitosis vs. Meiosis

    Cells can divide by mitosis, so each child cell retains a full set of chromosomes, or by meiosis, which halves the chromosomes and produces sperm and eggs. Making a baby with the correct number of chromosomes is therefore crucially dependent on meiosis. This interactive feature from NOVA: 18 Ways to Make a Baby provides a step-by-step, side-by-side comparison of meiosis and mitosis.

    This interactive activity requires Adobe Flash Player.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Illuminating Photosynthesis

    This interactive feature from NOVA explores the process plants use to convert solar energy into chemical energy. The site points out that photosynthesis is responsible for feeding nearly all life forms on Earth and that the process generates, as a by-product, an element that is critically important to the survival of humans and most other animals: oxygen.

    Grades: 3-12
  • Journey into DNA

    While the Human Genome Project has made DNA a household word, the exact location of DNA in the cells of the body remains a mystery to many. In this interactive feature from the NOVA: Cracking the Code of Life Web site, take a poetic guided tour of the human body, into a single intestinal cell, the cell's nucleus, its chromosomes, and eventually, its DNA.

    Grades: 6-13+