Cherryann Joseph                                                                        Return to Biology Menu

Brooklyn Technical High School

Summer 2001


Determining the Characteristics of Living Things


NAME_____________________                   PARTNER______________________         

DATE: ____________________                    CLASS_________________________


 LAB # ____: IS IT ALIVE?

OBJECTIVE: To determine the characteristics of living things.

Please use complete and correct sentences for all your answers.



1.      Based on your own knowledge, the key characteristics that you believe are necessary for something to be considered living.  (No textbook answers allowed). 


2.      Bring in an object (or a picture of an object) that displays three or more of these characteristics but is not a living thing or not part of a living thing.





A peanut, a lima bean, a plant, a slinky, a potato, a flame, a fish, pictures of several samples, a piece of butcher board paper, markers.



1.      Discuss the criteria for living things with your group.  Come to a consensus on at least five or more necessary characteristics of a living thing.

















2.  What problems did your group have in coming up with these criteria?

3.      Designate someone to be the reporter.  Each member must be able to explain the criteria that your group selected.  Your group has five minutes to share your criteria with the rest of the class. 

4.      Using input from each group and other resources, the class will come to a consensus on the characteristics of living things.

5.      Carefully observe each object/specimen/picture.  On a separate piece of paper, create an observation and inferences table.  State at least two observations and two inferences for each sample. 

6.      Using the criteria decided upon in #4, determine if the sample is living, non-living or other.  Be prepared to defend your explanations. 




































1.      How did your criteria compare to that of your group?  How did it compare to the class criteria?



2.      Look up information on viruses in one of the textbooks in the lab.  Write a summary description of viruses:



3.      Why is there a controversy about whether or not a virus is alive?




Science Standards

This lab aligns with the science standards in a number of ways.  The first applicable standards are: