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Content Benchmark L.8.B.2
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Life Science
Structure of Life
Organisms and Their Environment
Diversity of Life
Content Areas
Nature of Science (NOS)
Life Science
Earth Science
Physical Science

Students know cells grow, divide, and take in nutrients which they use to provide energy for cell functions. E/S

All life and therefore, all cells are characterized by a number of basic functions. Cells need to replicate or reproduce, materials need to move into and out of a cell, and the cell must obtain energy and use energy.

Cellular Reproduction
While individual cells may die, cellular reproduction is necessary for the survival of a species. Whether an organism is unicellular or multicellular, there are several types of cellular reproduction. These include binary fission, budding, mitosis and meiosis.

The process of binary fission (“splitting into two”) occurs in prokaryotic cells, most notably bacterial cells, but also in some protozoans. This is the simplest and quickest form of cellular reproduction. In the case of bacteria, it involves the doubling of the bacteria’s single and circular chromosome and the splitting of the cell into two new cells.

The division is a 3 step process:
1. The circular chromosome or DNA molecule replicates and attaches to the cell membrane.
2. The two DNA loops are pulled apart as the cell grows.
3. A new cell wall grows between the loops and separates the cell into two.

Under favorable conditions, bacteria can undergo binary fission every twenty minutes. Thus in a 24 hour period and 72 binary fission cycles, 1 bacterium would become (assuming all survived) 23.36 x 1021 bacteria. (At this point, the teacher might explain the difference between exponential and arithmetic growth.) Of course these ideal conditions which include energy supply, nutrients, pH and temperature are seldom achieved for this period of time.

To view variations in the rate of bacterial growth go to

For a graphing activity on exponential growth go to

To view an animation of binary fission and budding go to

Figure 1. E. coli under going binary fission.

In eukaryotic cells, mitosis is a part of the cell’s life cycle (See Figure 2). The life cycle of a cell varies from cell type to cell type, but essentially is composed for four phases including G1, S or synthesis, G2, and mitosis. The first three phases (G1, S and G2) are often called interphase. Injury and growth of an organism are two of the major reasons why cells will undergo mitosis and divide into two new cells.

Cells will also divide for greater efficiency. Generally speaking larger cells are less efficient than smaller cells due to surface to volume ratios. As cells increase in size, there is less surface area for each unit of volume, thus the exchange of materials into and out of a cell becomes more difficult. As seen in the Table 1, as a cell gets larger the surface area increases by a square and volume increase by a cube. Larger cells have less surface are per unit volume for the movement of substances into or out of the cells. Therefore, larger cells are less efficient than smaller cells.

Table 1: Surface to Volume Ratios

Cube Size (cm)
Surface Area
Surface to Volume Ratio
1 x 1 x 1
6 cm2
1 cm3
6 to 1
2 x 2 x 2
24 cm2
8 cm3
3 to 1
3 x 3 x 3
54 cm2
27 cm3
2 to 1

To illustrate this relationship the teacher can do a surface to volume activity for the class found at

Interphase is an active part of the cell’s life cycle. During G1 the cell is growing and carrying out its normal functions, whether it is a skin cell, liver cell or muscle cell. When the proper trigger mechanisms occur (see the reference below for greater details) the chromosomes will begin to divide in the S phase, which may last for an hour or so. This is followed by G2 when the cell now prepares for mitosis.

Figure 2. A typical eukaryotic cell life cycle.

The process of mitosis involves the division of the nucleus followed by cytokinesis or the division of the cell’s cytoplasm as seen in the illustration below.

Figure 3. An overview of the mitotic process.

Depending upon the type of cell, it may take mitosis several hours to complete its cycle. In mitosis, four basic phases can be identified which are briefly described below. Teachers may also find that an extra phase, called prometaphase, is often placed between prophase and metaphase. At the middle school level it is probably not necessary to include this phase for student understanding of the mitotic process. In older textbooks, this is often called late prophase. Nevertheless mitosis is a continuous process, and these terms are convenient terms used to denote various landmark changes occurring during this process.

  1. Prophase – chromosomes coil and shorten and the nuclear membrane fragments.
  2. Metaphase – movement of the chromosomes to the equatorial plate.
  3. Anaphase – separation of the sister chromatids.
  4. Telophase – reorganization of the nuclear membrane.

For a general description and diagrams of binary fission, the cell cycle and mitosis go to

If the teacher wants an advanced description of mitosis and mechanisms that regulate it, visit

The process of cytokinesis may begin during or after telophase, however the process is different in plants and animals. In plant cells, a cell plate (using molecules which have been formed in the Golgi bodies) forms near the equatorial plate. This cell plate eventually forms a cell wall that divides the plant cell into two cells. In animal cells, a cleavage furrow divides the cytoplasm in half.

Figure 4. Comparison of cytokinesis in animal and plant cells.

The process of cell division does not always proceed correctly. In cancer, the division of cancerous cells out paces that of normal cells. When this happens, errors often occur which results in the abnormal functioning of the cells.

For further description go to How Cancer Growth at Nova Online

Information regarding cancer is also available through Cancer Warrior at

The process of cell reproduction in gametes or sex cells is similar to that of non-sex cells, but involves the reduction of chromosomes by half. This process, called meiosis, is also known as reduction division because the chromosome number is reduced by this process. While mitosis involves the replication of the DNA and division once, meiosis also replicates the DNA once, but divides twice. It is this second division that reduces the chromosome number by half.

Figure 5. An overview of the meiotic process.

Prior to start of meiosis, cells have a full count of chromosomes or a diploid number. In humans this would be 46. The first division of meiosis proceeds much like mitosis, except the homologous chromosomes (paired chromosomes containing genes for the same traits) are separated and not the chromatids as in mitosis. After the first division two cells are produced, each with half the number of chromosomes or in the case of humans 23. These cells are often termed haploid or having one set of chromosomes. Each of these 23 chromosomes consists of paired chromatids.

As the gametes proceed to second division the DNA is not replicated. This second division is very much like mitosis as the sister chromatids are separated. However, the result is much different. See the Table 2 below for a comparison of the mitosis and meiosis. Also, genetic variation is increased during the first division of chromosomes. When the homologous chromosomes pair up in Prophase I their chromatids can become twisted. When this occurs they may exchange chromosomal segments in a process called crossing over.

Figure 6. Crossing over. This illustration also shows how crossing over can lead to increased genetic variation by producing four different types of gametes.

To view the steps and descriptions of meiosis go to

DNA Replication
Cells Produced
Chromosome Number
Crossing Over
Daughter are cells
Genetically the same
Genetically different

Figure 7. Comparing the overall process of mitosis and meiosis.

Budding occurs in organisms such as yeast or hydra. After mitosis occurs, the cytoplasm does not divide equally. Instead one of the new nuclei migrates to the cell membrane and is surrounded by a small amount of cytoplasm, which then “buds” off. Note the illustration of budding in yeast below.

Figure 8. Budding in yeast.

Figure 9. Budding in a hydra.

Cellular Transport
In order to survive a cell must exchange gases, chemicals and other materials between itself and its environment. This exchange occurs when these substances pass through the cell membrane or are taken in or out by the formation of vacuoles or vesicles from the cell membrane. The cell membrane is semipermeable (or selectively permeable) meaning that some, but not all substances will pass through the membrane.

An explanation of diffusion is needed in order to understand this process. In diffusion, molecules will move from areas of higher to areas of lower concentrations or towards equilibrium between two areas. Note the illustration below.

Figure 10. Diffusion involving one or two solutes. In each case molecules
continue to move until an equilibrium is reached.

This movement is influenced by what is known as diffusion pressure. Diffusion pressure includes the difference in concentration between two areas, temperature and any external pressure that may be applied. For example, the greater the difference in concentration between two areas will accelerate the movement of molecules from the higher to lower concentration. This difference is also know as the concentration or diffusion gradient. The concentration gradient will often determine whether molecules move into or out of a cell.

The movement of molecules across the membrane is often divided into two categories called passive transport requiring no extra energy to move molecules and active transport which requires additional energy to move molecules across the membrane. In passive transport, molecules move with or down the concentration gradient, while in active transport molecules move up or against the concentration gradient. In moving down the concentration gradient, molecules use their kinetic energy for movement. This can be likened to a rock rolling down a hill. But to move against the gradient or moving a rock up hill requires energy. A rock will not “roll” itself up hill.

Gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide will move into or out of a cell by simple diffusion, a type of passive transport. On the other hand, movement of small molecules or ions is dependent upon the concentration of water in either side of the membrane. The difference in water concentration on either side of the membrane provides the “energy” to move these other substances.

Osmosis is the term used to describe the diffusion of water. Osmosis is defined as the movement of water molecules across a semipermeable membrane from areas of high water concentration to areas of lower water concentration. This movement of water may aid the movement of other molecules.

Figure 11. Osmosis

In osmosis, the concentration of water is dependent upon the concentration of dissolved substances (solutes) that are in the water (the solvent) on either side of the membrane. If solutes are high then the relative water concentration is low, and if solutes are low then the relative water concentration is high. Note in the illustration how this effects the movement of water. In Figure 10, the solutes are too large to move through the membrane.

Figure 12. Hypotonic, Hypertonic and Isotonic : In the upper part of the diagram both sides have equal concentrations of solutes and therefore are isotonic to each other. In the bottom half, the right side is hypertonic to the left as it has more solutes, while the left is hypotonic to the right because it has less solute.

Each term (hypertonic, hypotonic and isotonic) is defined by the concentration of solutes in the water. A hypertonic solution has a higher concentration of solutes relative to another solution. (Note: You cannot hold a solution in your hand and state it is hypertonic. The question that will be asked is “Hypertonic to what other solution?”). Likewise “hypo” means less solutes and “iso” means equal solutes.

Therefore, water will move from a hypotonic solution into a hypertonic solution. In Figure 13, the first cell (a) is hypotonic to the surroundings and water leaves the cell. On the other hand, the second cell (b) is hypertonic to the surroundings and water enters the cell.

Figure 13. An illustration of water movement in hypertonic and hypotonic solution.

The importance in maintaining a proper osmotic balance with a cell’s environment can be seen in the illustration of red blood cell (RBC) shown below. In order to keep its proper shape and function, a RBC must be isotonic to the surrounding blood plasma. If the plasma has a higher concentration of solute or is hypertonic to the RBC, the RBC will shrink or undergo crenation. The reverse happens in a hypotonic solution. In this case the RBC may burst or undergo cytolysis. For this reason it important that hospitals prepare IV solutions with utmost care.

Figure 14. Effects on red blood cells placed in isotonic, hypertonic and hypotonic solutions.

While it is critical for a red blood cell to be isotonic with the surrounding blood plasma, some cells will not always seek to be in an isotonic situation with their environment. For support, herbaceous or non-woody plant cells need to be hypertonic to their surroundings. In this condition water will move into the plant cell creating an internal pressure or turgor on the cell wall. Thus, the cell becomes rigid or turgid which in turn provides support for the plant. Without this turgor pressure, the non-woody plant would wilt.

Figure 15. Effects of water movement in plant cells.

Figure 16. Plant wilting. When plant cells lose their turgor pressure wilting will occur.

Table 3: Summary of Osmosis

Solution compared to a cell Relative solute concentration of solution compared to cell: high, low, equal Relative water concentration of solution compared to cell: high, low, equal Cell immersed in solution will: gain, lose water Plant cell will: plasmolyze, become turgid Animal will: crenate, undergo cytolysis
Isotonic Equal Equal No change No change No change
Hypertonic Higher Lower Lose Plasmolyze Crenate
Hypotonic Lower Higher Gain Become Turgid Undergo Cytolysis

Ions and larger molecules (amino acids or simple sugars) need assistance in order to move across the membrane. Their size, polarity or charged nature prevents movement through or across the cell membrane. In these cases, special carrier proteins will assist in their movement into or out of the cell. This movement is called facilitated diffusion. Since the molecules are moving with the concentration gradient and require no added energy it is also an example of passive transport.

Figure 17. Example of facilitated diffusion.

In some cases substances need to move against the concentration gradient. The most notable example in the human body is found in the nerve cells. When a nerve cell “fires” or sends an impulse, ions are exchanged between the inside and outside of the nerve cell. In order to reset itself these ions must move back to their original location. This involves moving ions against their concentration gradient. To accomplish this ion gates are activated by energy molecules called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and allow this movement to take place.

Figure 18. The NaK Pump found in nerves pumps these ions against their
concentration gradient with the aid of energy – ATP molecules.

Figure 19. Comparing Passive and Active Transport.

Finally, some molecules or substance are simply too large to move into or out of the cell. In these cases, the cell will form vacuoles to move these substances. This is called endocytosis (moving into the cell) and exocytosis (moving out of the cell). White blood cells called macrophages (“large eaters”) will engulf bacteria in a process called phagocytosis (an example of endocytosis). Once engulfed the bacteria is digested by the cell’s lysosomes.

Figure 20. Illustration of phagocytosis.

Cells may also get rid of waste products in a reverse process called exocytosis. This process involves moving substances out (exo) of the cell (cytosis).

Cellular Energy - Photosynthesis
Energy needs to be obtained and utilized in living organisms. Energy can be obtained from the food we eat during the process of cellular respiration or some autotrophic organisms, like plants, can obtain energy from the sun via photosynthesis.

Photosynthetic organisms such as plants, some forms of bacteria, algae and protozoans have the ability to utilize sunlight to generate organic compounds (ex. simple sugars) which can be stored and used later as an energy source for cellular functions. The general formula for photosynthesis is shown below.

H2O + CO2 + Energy -> C6H12O6 + O2
(Water and Carbon dioxide and Energy yields Glucose and Oxygen)

This formula is a very brief summary of the overall process of photosynthesis. It must be remembered that water and carbon dioxide do not directly combine to form glucose. In a complex process of reactions (Figure 21) these two molecules are utilized in different sets of reactions called the light reactions (light dependent reactions) and Calvin cycle (light independent reactions).

Figure 21. Overview of photosynthesis.

For teachers wanting to know a more detailed description of photosynthesis, the following information is provided. However, it should be noted that it is beyond what is needed by students in middle school. Addition links are also provided.

In the light reactions, light energy is captured by chlorophyll which is found in the chloroplasts. Water is needed to replace electrons that chlorophyll loses as it captures and passes the sun’s energy along to other reactions. This energy is used to form two energy molecules called ATP and NADPH. The energy from these molecules will be utilized in the Calvin Cycle. Once their energy has been passed to the Calvin Cycle these two return to the Light Reactions as ADP and NADP+ to pick up more energy.

In the Calvin Cycle carbon dioxide joins a molecule called RuBP that is present in the chloroplast to make a six carbon compound. With energy from the light reaction this six carbon compound is converted into 2 molecules called G3P. G3P can be used to form various organic compounds as shown in Figure 21. Initially glucose will be formed which the cell usually stores as starch or is used to form sucrose and is transported to other parts of the plant. The starch or sucrose can later be converted back to glucose which will be utilized in cellular respiration.

In addition to this description, a more detailed explanation of photosynthesis is available at

Kimball’s Biology Pages – college level description at

Online Biology Book – honors level high school description at

Cellular Energy – Cellular Respiration
In cellular respiration cells utilize food, most often glucose to provide energy to the cell. A summary of the process can be seen below. Chemically, the equation for cellular respiration is the reverse of photosynthesis.

C6H12O6 + O2 -> CO2 + H2O + Energy
(Glucose and Oxygen yields Carbon dioxide and Water and Energy)

Figure 22. A summary of cellular respiration.

Similar to the formula for photosynthesis, the above equation is only a summary of the overall set of reactions that are needed to obtain the energy from a molecule of glucose. The first part of this reaction called glycolysis (“sugar breakdown”) takes place in the cytoplasm. The cell provides energy in the form of ATP to split a molecule of glucose. As a result, a small amount of energy is released and two molecules of pyruvic acid or pyruvate (the nonaqueous form) are produced. The pyruvic acids molecules still hold a large amount of energy. In the presence of oxygen this energy can be obtained when pyruvic acid passes into the mitochondria.

In the mitochondria, the energy that was locked up in the chemical bonds of pyruvic acid is converted into more energy molecules called NADH + H+ and FADH2 in the Krebs cycle. Later in the Electron Transport Chain all the electrons in the molecules of NADH + H+ and FADH2 are used to make ATP which can be used for cellular work.

As a result of cellular respiration, about 40% of the energy that is in a glucose molecule is converted into energy (in the form of ATP) that can be used by the cell for cellular work. A question that might be asked by students is “What happens to the other 60%?” This 60% is given off as heat during these reactions. In living organisms this heat goes to warm the body. You might ask your students what happens when they go outside on a very cold day and forget their coat. Most often they will answer that they shiver. Your next question, “And why do you shiver?” The answer is to produce heat. To shiver the muscles need energy, therefore breakdown glucose. And as we have seen this produces heat energy.

At this point students might ask why is oxygen needed? As in photosynthesis, energized electrons are used to pass energy along. At the end of the Electron Transport Chain these electrons need to be removed to make room for others. Oxygen, an electron grabber picks up the spent electrons and along with H+ (hydrogen ions) forms water.

If oxygen is not available the pyruvic acid will not be broken down and carried into the mitochondria. To avoid a possible toxic buildup, the pyruvic acid is converted into ethanol (in bacteria and yeast) or lactic acid (in animals, including humans).

A detailed explanation of the Krebs cycle and Electron Transport Chain is not needed at this level, but for teachers who want a detailed description of what happens in these reactions can access the following sites.

Kimball’s Biology Pages – college level description at

Online Biology Book – honors level high school description at

Table 4: Comparison of Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration

Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration


Cellular Respiration

produces food

uses food

stores energy

releases energy

uses water

produces water

uses carbon dioxide

produces carbon dioxide

releases oxygen

uses oxygen

occurs in sunlight

occurs in the dark as well as light

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Content Benchmark L.8.B.2

Students know cells grow, divide, and take in nutrients which they use to provide energy for cell functions. E/S

Common misconceptions associated with this benchmark

1.Students assume that a majority of the mass in plants comes from water or other substances from the soil. Students do not think that carbon dioxide plays a major role.

Students have a difficult time imagining that carbon dioxide has mass. To help students understand that it does have mass, teachers can bring dry ice to class to demonstrate that carbon dioxide does have mass.

The Annenberg Video series called A Private Universe has an excellent section on student misconceptions about photosynthesis. The Section entitled Biology: Why Are Some Ideas So Difficult explores student misconceptions on this subject and ways in which teachers can over come them. Teachers need to register to view the video, but it is free. The home page can be found at:

2. Students inaccurately think that respiration only occurs in the lungs and do not realize the difference between respiration and cellular respiration.

Respiration is the physical and mechanical process of exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide between the atmosphere, the lungs and blood. Cellular respiration is the chemical process in the cells whereby oxygen is used to help breakdown food (normally glucose) to create energy that can be utilized by the cells.

Teachers can refer to the following two sites to aid in clarifying this misconception. The first describe role of the lungs and the second describe cellular respiration.
The process of breath at

Cellular respiration at

3. Students incorrectly believe that plants obtain energy by photosynthesis and animals obtain energy by cell respiration.

While plants utilize the sun’s energy to produce food, it is the process of cellular respiration that chemically breaks down this food to obtain energy for cellular use. Animals and plants both use cellular respiration to obtain energy from the food whether they ingest it or produce it themselves. While plants do produce and give off oxygen in the process of photosynthesis, some of this oxygen is utilized by the plant during the process of cellular respiration.

A comparison of these processes can be found at

An additional summary chart of these processes can be found at

4. Students incorrectly think that interphase is a period of rest during the cell cycle.

During interphase the cell is quite active. After mitosis the new cells begin growing in size and performing their designated functions, whether acting as muscle cells or digestive cells producing enzymes for digestion in the stomach. Prior to mitosis, chromosomes in the nucleus need to be replicated along with other molecules necessary for cell division. Thus the cell is never at “rest”.

To help understand the mitosis students can “act out” this process following the procedures found at

Teachers can find lesson plans and activities about mitosis at

5. Students have the misconception that diffusion is the process whereby all substances move into or out of a cell.

Diffusion involves movement of molecules from areas of high to areas of low concentration. While some of the smallest molecules like oxygen, carbon dioxide or water move across the cell’s membrane by simple diffusion, most other molecules need assistance in moving across the cellular membrane. It now appears that water transport across the membrane is aided by “aquapores” at times. Ions, sugars, amino acids and other larger molecules require special protein pores or channels to move into or out of the cell. Also there are times during active transport that molecules will move against the concentration gradient, that is, they move from low to high concentrations.

Teacher can find a unit on teaching diffusion at

6. Osmosis always will reach equilibrium.

Equilibrium is not always the “goal” of osmosis. Red blood cells may need to be at equilibrium with the surrounding plasma, so that they do not burst. On the other hand plants might wilt or plant roots would not take in water if they are at equilibrium with their surroundings.

Teachers can help to correct this misconception by doing the “classic” egg osmosis lab. Directions for this lab can be found at the following sites

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Content Benchmark L.8.B.2

Students know cells grow, divide, and take in nutrients which they use to provide energy for cell functions. E/S

Sample Test Questions

1st Item Specification: Understand the general process of cell division.

Depth of Knowledge Level 1

  1. Normally after mitosis has been completed
    1. four cells with the same number of chromosomes are formed.
    2. two cells with the same number of chromosomes are formed
    3. two cells with an unequal number of chromosomes are formed.
    4. four cells with half the number of chromosomes are formed.

  2. During the cell cycle, chromosomes are duplicated during
    1. interphase.
    2. prophase.
    3. anaphase.
    4. telophase.

Depth of Knowledge Level 2

  1. A skin cell has 46 chromosomes. Which statement below would provide evidence that the chromosomes were duplicated prior to cell division?
    1. Four cells are produced with each having 23 chromosomes.
    2. Four cells are produced with each having 46 chromosomes.
    3. Two cells are produced with each having 92 chromosomes.
    4. Two cells are produced with each having 46 chromosomes.

  1. Use the illustration below to answer the next question. The image shows cells in various stages of the cell cycle.

Illustration modified from image from:

Which of the following sequences would arrange the above cell in the correct order that occurs during mitosis?

  1. 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 7
  2. 4 – 3 – 7 – 1 – 2
  3. 4 – 2 – 1 – 7 – 3
  4. 7 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 4
  1. Use the illustration below to answer the next question. The image shows cells in various stages of the cell cycle.

Illustration obtained from

Assume the time a cell spends in each phase of mitosis is represented by the number of cells in each phase. Thus the more cells in any particular phase, the longer the time spend in that phase. What statement below would be correct based on the illustration showing mitosis.

  1. Interphase is the longest period of mitosis.
  2. Telophase is the shortest period of mitosis.
  3. Metaphase is the longest period of mitosis.
  4. Prophase is the shortest period of mitosis.

2nd  Item Specification: Identify that the specialized parts of cell perform specific functions.

Depth of Knowledge Level 1

  1. The process of photosynthesis occurs in an organelle called the
    1. ribosomes.
    2. mitochondria.
    3. chloroplast.
    4. nucleus.

  2. In what organelle does the process of cellular respiration occur?
    1. Chloroplast
    2. Vacuole
    3. Ribosome
    4. Mitochrondria

Depth of Knowledge Level 2

  1. What type of body cell would most likely have the greatest number of mitochondria?
    1. Skin cell
    2. Liver cell
    3. Cheek cell
    4. Muscle cell

  2. Environmental conditions, such as climate change, can reduce the consumption of amino acids and sugars by an animal. Hibernation is an example of this cellular reaction to the environmental conditions. Which cellular organelle would show a decrease in activity if the consumption of amino acids and sugars decreased?
    1. Ribosomes
    2. Mitochondria
    3. Vacuoles
    4. Nucleus    

3rd Item Specification: Know the function of semipermeable membranes.

Depth of Knowledge Level 1

  1. The process that moves water across a semipermeable membrane from high to low concentrations is called
    1. osmosis.
    2. active transport.
    3. diffusion.
    4. facilitated diffusion.

  2. Which process requires the help of energy to move molecules across a membrane from low to higher concentrations?
    1. Diffusion
    2. Passive transport
    3. Active transport
    4. Facilitated diffusion

Depth of Knowledge Level 2

  1. What is most likely to happen if a cell is placed in a high salt solution?
    1. The cell will shrink in size as it loses water.
    2. The cell will grow in size as it gains water.
    3. The cell will keep is normal size as water moves in and out equally.
    4. The cell will keep its normal size as salt moves in and out equally.      

  2. Use the illustrations below the answer the next question.
A) 60% water
40% sugar
B) 55% water
45% sugar
C) 35%water
65% sugar
D)25% water
75% sugar

A student places a bag that each contains equal solutions of 55% water and 45% sugar into 4 beakers. Each beaker contains different concentrations of a sugar solution as shown in the illustrations above. The bags are not permeable to sugar, but water will pass through. Which statement below best describes what will happen?

  1. The sugar concentration in Beaker A will decrease.
  2. The sugar concentration in Beaker B will increase.
  3. The water level in Beaker C will decrease.
  4. The water level in Beaker D will increase.

4th Item Specification: Understand the general processes of cellular respiration and photosynthesis

Depth of Knowledge Level 1

  1. Trees require several substances for photosynthesis and growth. The substance that provides the most mass for a tree is
    1. soil.
    2. water.
    3. carbon dioxide.
    4. oxygen.

  2. Which of the following is NOT needed for photosynthesis?
    1. Carbon dioxide
    2. Water
    3. Chlorophyll
    4. Oxygen

  3. Which of the following is NOT required for cellular respiration to take place in a cell?
    1. Oxygen
    2. Energy
    3. Carbon dioxide
    4. Glucose

Depth of Knowledge Level 2

  1. Which statement about photosynthesis and cellular respiration is true?
    1. Photosynthesis uses water and respiration releases it.
    2. Both use carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
    3. Photosynthesis releases carbon dioxide and respiration uses it.
    4. Respiration uses water and photosynthesis releases it.

  2. Which statement about photosynthesis and plant growth is correct? Most of the plant growth comes from
    1. soil nutrients used during photosynthesis.
    2. water used during photosynthesis.
    3. the energy used during photosynthesis.
    4. carbon dioxide used during in photosynthesis.

Constructed Response L.8.B.2

  1. Both plants and animals need energy for daily survival.
    1. Explain how respiration and photosynthesis help to supply the daily energy supply for each of these groups.
    2. Identify the specific organelles in plant and animals that carry out the processes of respiration and photosynthesis.
    3. Write the general formulas for respiration and photosynthesis. Analyze the formulas and explain the relationship between the reactants and the products in each formula

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Content Benchmark L.8.B.2.

Students know cells, grow, divide, and take in nutrients which they use to provide energy for cell functions. E/S

Answers to Sample Test Questions

  1. B, DOK Level 1
  2. A, DOK Level 1
  3. D, DOK Level 2
  4. C, DOK Level 2
  5. D, DOK Level 2
  6. C, DOK Level 1
  7. D, DOK Level 1
  8. D, DOK Level 2
  9. B, DOK Level 2
  10. A, DOK Level 1
  11. C, DOK Level 1
  12. A, DOK Level 2
  13. D, DOK Level 2
  14. C, DOK Level 1
  15. D, DOK Level 1
  16. C, DOK Level 1
  17. A, DOK Level 2
  18. D, DOK Level 2

Constructed Response L.8.B.2 Score Rubric:

3 points

 Response addresses all parts of the question clearly and correctly.

Both plants and animals utilize respiration to breakdown food to obtain energy. Only plants perform the process of photosynthesis, whereby they use light to make food or sugars that later can be used by the plant or animals. Both plants and animals have mitochondria where respiration occurs. Only plants have chloroplasts where photosynthesis takes place.
Water + Carbon dioxide with sunlight yields sugar + oxygen.
Sugar + oxygen yields carbon dioxide + water and energy
The products of photosynthesis (sugar and oxygen) and the reactants used in respiration. The products of respiration (carbon dioxide and water) are the reactants used in photosynthesis.

2 points

 Response addresses all parts of the question and includes only minor errors.

1 points

 Response does not address all parts of the question.

0 points

 Response is totally incorrect or no response provided.

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Content Benchmark L.8.B.2

Students know cells grow, divide, and take in nutrients which they use to provide energy for cell functions. E/S

Intervention Strategies and Resources

The following is a list of intervention strategies and resources that will facilitate student understanding of this benchmark.

1. CELLS Alive!

The website Cells Alive has detailed information, animations, and videos that cover the cell cycle, mitosis and meiosis that can be utilized by the teacher to illustrate these processes to students.

Teachers can access this website at

2. Osmosis and Diffusion Labs

Teachers can find laboratory activities or demonstrations on diffusion and osmosis at the following websites.

Students can do the diffusion lab found at

Another lab is I Shrunk the Carrots found at

Teachers can construct an egg osmometer with instructions found at

3. Private Universe Project in Science – Focus Photosynthesis

In the Annenberg series entitled the Private Universe Project in Science, teachers should view the segment called Biology: Whys Are Some Ideas So Difficult (Workshop 2). In this video teachers will find an excellent discussion on the difficulties in teaching photosynthesis to students. To view this and any Annenberg video you will first need to register, but it is free! You will find other useful videos at this site too.

Teachers can access this video segment at

4. Photosynthesis from the Teachers Domain

To introduce photosynthesis to your students have them view the video clip on photosynthesis found at Teachers Domain (PBS). After several trial viewings you will need to register at this site – it is simple, safe, and free!

The video can be found at

5. Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Digital Video Library - Photosynthesis

Also teacher might want to have students view how we came to out present understanding of photosynthesis by looking at its history of discovery. This clip explains the process of photosynthesis. Leaves from plants grown in the light contain starch, but leaves from plants grown in the dark do not contain starch.

To view this 5 minute video go to

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