Laboratory Investigation: Observing the Characteristics of Life Purpose:

Laboratory Investigation: Observing the Characteristics of Life
Purpose: In this lab, students will observe various specimens for evidence of different
characteristics of life. Some characteristics that will be observed include: reproduction,
growth and development, homeostasis, and cellular organization. Other physical and
behavioral characteristics will also be observed. Then, comparisons and generalizations
can be made about living organisms.
Materials: Microscope, microviewer, microslides, prepared slides, various preserved
1. Select 8 specimens (one from each lab table and any others of your choosing) and
answer the following questions for each specimen. Record your responses in the
table given. Answer the questions only on the basis of your observations. If you
cannot answer a questions from your observations, write “CA” (cannot answer) in the
1. What are the physical characteristics of the specimen? Use detail.
2. What evidence do you see of
a. growth?
b. development?
c. reproduction?
3. Is the organism unicellular (composed of one cell) or multicellular (composed
of many cells)?
4. Is the specimen a producer (an organism capable of making its own food) or a
consumer (an organism unable to produce its own food)?
5. List any organs that you can observe.
6. An adaptation is a special feature that enables the organism to survive in its
environment. List three adaptations you can observe.
7. What community or communities might the specimen be able to live in –
forest, grassland, desert, pond, etc.?
You have just completed a series of observations of living things. Some of the
specimens were probably familiar to you; others were not. Your collected data now
becomes important because you can formulate generalizations about the specimens.
Answer the following questions about your observations of the specimens.
1. Which one of the above questions was most difficult to answer on the basis of your
observations? Why?
2. Which questions were the least difficult to answer? Why?
3. How many of the observed specimens can probably live in more than one
community? List them.
4. What adaptations make it possible for them to live in more than one community?
5. Give an example of an adaptation that you observed and explain how it helps the
organism survive (besides any mentioned in #4).
6. What feature helped you identify the specimen as a producer or consumer?
7. Describe what evidence for growth and development looked like in a specimen.
8. Describe what evidence for reproduction looked like in an organism.
9. Describe what evidence for response to the environment looked like in an organism.
10. Define life based on your observations.