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Cell Structure, OSC0032
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Education Standards (5)

Cell Structure Resources

Cell Structure Resources


Your body has many kinds of cells, each specialized for a specific purpose. Just as we use a variety of materials to build a home, the human body is constructed from many cell types. For example, epithelial cells protect the body's surface and cover the organs and body cavities within. Bone cells help to support and protect the body. Immune system cells fight invading bacteria. Additionally, blood and blood cells carry nutrients and oxygen throughout the body while removing carbon dioxide. Each of these cell types plays a vital role during the body's growth, development, and day-to-day maintenance. In spite of their enormous variety, however, cells from all organisms—even ones as diverse as bacteria, onion, and human—share certain fundamental characteristics.

Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives (Biology II TAGs)

II.1. Relate levels of biological organization from cells, the basic unit of life, to the organism and the relationship of structure to function at all levels of biological organization.

II.2. Explain the basic structures and fundamental processes of life at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels.

II.3. Recognize cells as the basic unit of life in all living organisms; compare and contrast the differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.

II.4. Compare plant and animal cell structure and function, including their respective organelles and other components.

Recommended Textbook Resources

Chapter 4: Cell Structure Biology 2e OpenStax Cover

OpenStax: Biology 2e

Chapter 4, Cell Structure, A cell is the smallest unit of a living thing. Whether comprised of one cell (like bacteria) or many cells (like a human), we call it an organism. Thus, cells are the basic building blocks of all organisms.

Several cells of one kind that interconnect with each other and perform a shared function form tissues. These tissues combine to form an organ (your stomach, heart, or brain), and several organs comprise an organ system (such as the digestive system, circulatory system, or nervous system). Several systems that function together form an organism (like a human being). Here, we will examine the structure and function of cells.

There are many types of cells, which scientists group into one of two broad categories: prokaryotic and eukaryotic. For example, we classify both animal and plant cells as eukaryotic cells; whereas, we classify bacterial cells as prokaryotic. Before discussing the criteria for determining whether a cell is prokaryotic or eukaryotic, we will first examine how biologists study cells.

Student Assessment Activities

Student Assessment Activities are below; instructors can also Download a Cell Structure Student Activities Word File or View the Cell Structure Student Activity Google Doc.

Project 1:

Draw a Eukaryotic cell and a Prokaryotic cell, pay particular attention to what is inside of each cell. Now label the structures and organelles of each cell. 

Create a table that outlines the similarities and differences of Eukaryotic and Prokaryotic cells.

List the Eukaryotic cellular organelles and provide a short description of the function of each organelle. 

How are cells connected to each other? What functional roles do these connections play at the cellular level?

Project 2:

Find the correct answers to the end of the chapter “Review Questions.” Note the page number on which you found the answer. Be prepared to share and explain your answers in a group setting. 

Project 3:

Answer the end of the chapter “Critical Thinking Questions.”