In this activity, learners discuss how life is defined and conduct a simple experiment, looking for signs of life in three different “soil” samples. The experiment introduces learners to the difficulty that scientists face in defining life. By observing the soil samples, learners try to determine if any contain signs of life and work to identify, refine, and create a set of characteristics that may be used to identify living versus nonliving things. The activity concludes with the development of a group definition of life.
Keywords:NSDL,Chemistry of Life,definition of life,Earth and Space Science,Gases,Biological science,About Inquiry,living things,Space Science,Mars,General,astrobiology,Geoscience,Social Sciences,Communicating Results,Chemistry,Upper Elementary,space,oai:nsdl.org:2200/20140718104125866T,The Nature of Science,Gathering Data,Life Science,General science,Astronomy,Solar System,Informal Education,Middle School,Formulating Explanations,Cells,Cell Metabolism,Chemical Reactions,chemical reaction,Elementary School,Physical Sciences,States of Matter,History/Policy/Law,astronomy,Physics,Science as a Career,Life Sciences,The Planets,The Scientific Worldview,Earth system science,Diversity of Life,NSDL_SetSpec_ncs-NSDL-COLLECTION-000-003-112-056,Science and society,Space science,Conducting Investigations,Physical science,Education,The Scientific Process,Asking Questions