Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

Monthly Update sign up
Mailing List signup

Life Science: Session 1

Teaching Tips: The SPONCH CaFe

Levels of Organization

What’s on the menu at the SPONCH CaFe? The elements of life! Our host Dr. Douglas Zook provides us with a clever way of remembering some of the most common types of elements found as atoms in the molecules of living things. This mnemonic device is based on the chemical symbols for elements in the periodic table.

The elements sulfur (S), phosphorus (P), oxygen (O), nitrogen (N), carbon (C), and hydrogen (H) are the most abundant in organic molecules, but calcium (Ca) and iron (Fe) are also critical to life functions. Dr. Zook even goes further with his students by adding “Maggie’s SPONCH CaFe”, where Maggie stands for magnesium (Mg). Of the 107 elements that occur naturally on Earth, only about a dozen or so compose most of the matter of an organism. There are many other elements, however, that are very important and occur in trace amounts. Furthermore, different types of organisms often have different proportions of these elements.

prev: extremophiles next: scientist at work


© Annenberg Foundation 2017. All rights reserved. Legal Policy