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In this unit, students will be covering the basic unit of life and know that all living organisms are made of cells. Students will also learn to draw, label and identify the difference between plant and animal cells. This topic will also cover the functions of the important organelles like nucleus, cell membrane, mitochondria, chloroplast and vacuole. Students will also be expected to describe the appropriate method how substances leave and enter a cell membrane. The methods are diffusion and osmosis. Experiments will be done do allow students to understand the concepts better.

Learning Targets

Cell structure and organisation Core

  • State that living organisms are made of cells
  • Identify and describe the structure of a plant cell (palisade cell) and an animal cell (liver cell), as seen under a light microscope
  • Describe the differences in structure between typical animal and plant cells
  • Relate the structures seen under the light microscope in the plant cell and in the animal cell to their functions

Levels of organisation

Relate the structure of the following to their functions:

  • ciliated cells – in respiratory tract
  • root hair cells – absorption
  • xylem vessels – conduction and support
  • muscle cells – contraction
  • red blood cells – transport


  • tissue as a group of cells with similar structures, working together to perform a shared function
  • organ as a structure made up of a group of tissues, working together to perform specific functions
  • organ system as a group of organs with related functions, working together to perform body functions

Size of specimens

  • Calculate magnification and size of biological specimens using millimetres as units

Movement in and out of cells


  • Define diffusion as the net movement of molecules from a region of their higher concentration to a region of their lower concentration down a concentration gradient, as a result of their random movement
  • Describe the importance of diffusion of gases and solutes and of water as a solvent

Active Transport

  • Define active transport as movement of ions in or out of a cell through the cell membrane, from a region of their lower concentration to a region of their higher concentration against a concentration gradient, using energy released during respiration
  • Discuss the importance of active transport as an energy-consuming process by which substances are transported against a concentration gradient, e.g. ion uptake by root hairs and uptake of glucose by epithelial cells of villi


  • Define osmosis as the diffusion of water molecules from a region of their higher concentration (dilute solution) to a region of their lower concentration (concentrated solution), through a partially permeable membrane
  • Describe the importance of osmosis in the uptake of water by plants, and its effects on plant and animal tissues
  • Describe and explain the importance of a water potential gradient in the uptake of water by plants

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