Student Edition Recommended grade level: 7-8. Reading level: middle 7. Cells: Building Blocks of Life, which introduces students to the cellular basis of life, is organized in 4 chapters: (1) "The Nature of Life," (2) "Cell Structure and Function," (3) ''Cell Processes," and (4) "Cell Energy." During the course, students learn about several theories of the origin of life on earth. They also identify the basic characteristics of living things, learn about the organic compounds that are the building blocks of life, and examine the important structures of cells and their functions. Students compare a typical plant cell and a typical animal cell, and they study how materials pass into and out of cells through osmosis, diffusion, and active transport. They also examine the processes of growth and reproduction of cells, find out how cells obtain and use energy, and learn about and compare respiration and photosynthesis.
Each chapter includes a lab investigation. Students analyze their school lunch menu for the presence of 3 major food nutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins). They also learn how to use a microscope to observe objects, and they look at prepared slides of mitosis in animal and plant cells. Students investigate the relationship between photosynthesis and respiration using Elodea and bromthymol blue solution (an indicator) in flasks.
Each chapter contains comprehensive reading sections that introduce major science concepts. Suggestions are provided for activities in which students "find out by doing," "find out by reading," and "find out by writing." Other skills-oriented activities are also suggested for example, observing a piece of onion tissue under a microscope and writing a brief report on Melvin Calvin's discovery of the Calvin cycle.
Other features of the textbook include problem-solving challenges, descriptions of science careers, and science connections to real-world events or issues. The student edition closes with readings on 3 topics: (1) zoologist Fernando Nottebohm and his study of neurogenesis in bird brains, (2) the uses and abuses of human-growth hormone (HGH), and (3) a fictional account of people's being given attributes of plants to allow them to survive in a space colony.
Teacher's Edition In the teacher's wraparound edition, each chapter begins with a 2-page planning guide and a 2-page preview that summarizes each section within the chapter. The teacher's edition also provides suggestions for teaching, guiding, integrating, and closing lessons, as well as enrichments, extensions, and answers to questions in the student text.