Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Life Science: TerrAqua Column

Get a Life!

get a life necklace

How can you tell if an object is living? If it is alive, what conditions are essential for its survival? In “Get a Life!”, you’ll have an opportunity to test your ideas by creating tiny habitats to which you introduce objects that puzzle or interest you. Your habitats are strung together in a necklace so that you’ll be right there to observe what happens!

Materials Required


  1. Collect objects that you wish to test for life. Things that you suspect to be plants, seeds, animals, or eggs make good choices. Your objects must be small enough to introduce into a microcentrifuge tube.
  2. For each object, determine the conditions that will help you test for life.
  3. Create these conditions in the appropriate tubes.
  4. Introduce the objects you’ve chosen into their tubes.
  5. Wear your Get A Life Necklace!
  6. Monitor the tubes regularly for signs of life.
  7. Be sure to sustain the conditions you created in each tube.

Activity Questions

Before you begin

  1. What are the five characteristics of life?
  2. Which characteristics do you think you can test for in a microcentrifuge tube?
  3. How can you test for these characterisitcs?
  4. How will you know if you’re observing these characteristics?
  5. In creating conditions in your tubes, does it matter whether the object is a plant or animal? Why or why not?

After the activity

  1. What objects did you place in your tubes?
  2. Which objects did you conclude to be living?
  3. For each item, what evidence convinced you of this?
  4. Were there any items for which the evidence was inconclusive?
  5. How would you modify conditions to try to obtain more conclusive results?


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