Connecticut Content Standard 4: Units Of Structure And Function

Students will understand that living things share common materials and structures which perform basic life functions.

Grades K - 4

Educational experiences in Grades K - 4 will assure that students:

  • list features (in Grades K-2) which distinguish living, nonliving and once-living things from one another;
  • discuss (in Grades K-2) basic life functions, such as respiration, movement, elimination, responding to stimuli, taking in food, and reproduction;
  • use instruments (in Grades K-2), such as magnifying glasses, to observe living and nonliving things more clearly;
  • know that living things are composed of cells, which are the fundamental units of life;
  • differentiate between unicellular and multi-cellular organisms;
  • compare and group living and nonliving materials for similarities and differences;
  • identify and describe basic cell structure; and
  • recognize that all living things, from simple cells to multi-cellular organisms, share basic characteristics and requirements.

Grades 5 - 8

Educational experiences in Grades 5 - 8 will assure that students:

  • identify similarities and differences that characterize different types of cells (e.g., plant, animal muscle, nerve, bone);
  • recognize that basic life processes, such as photo-synthesis and respiration, occur at the cellular level;
  • recognize that tissues and organs in multi-cellular organisms are made of specialized groups of cells which work together to perform specific functions;
  • understand that cells divide for growth, re-placement, repair and reproduction; and
  • understand that, while most living things are composed of cells, there are other things such as viruses that are difficult to identify as living or non-living.

Grades 9 - 12

Educational experiences in Grades 9 - 12 will assure that students:

  • understand the role of the cell membrane in control-ling materials entering and leaving the cell;
  • understand that there are specialized structures in the cell used for energy capture and release;
  • explain that the structure and function of cells depends on proteins, which are made of specific sequences of amino acids coded by the DNA, that are unique to each individual;
  • know that cell behavior can be influenced by other cells, chemicals or other organisms;
  • describe the processes and results of mitosis and meiosis;
  • know that cells function in a narrow range of physical conditions, such as temperature and pH, to carry out life functions that help them maintain themselves (homeostasis);
  • understand that continual solar energy input and the fixing of solar energy by photosynthetic organisms is necessary for most life;
  • recognize that while viruses lack the standard cellular structure, they have the genetic material to invade living cells; and
  • understand that the matter making up living things is the same matter found in the physical world.


The following GEMS guides support this Standard:

Ant Homes Under the Ground
Grades PreK-1

Eggs Eggs Everywhere
Grades PreK-1

Grades PreK-1

Mother Opossum and Her Babies
Grades PreK-1

Penguins and Their Young
Grades PreK-1

Buzzing A Hive Grades K-3

Terrarium Habitats
Grades K-6

On Sandy Shores Grades 2-4

Aquatic Habitats Grades 2-6

Schoolyard Ecology
Grades 3-6

Microscopic Explorations
Grades 4-8

Environmental Detectives
Grades 5-8

Acid Rain
Grades 6-8

Global Warming & the Greenhouse Effect
Grades 7-8

Lawrence Hall of Science    © 2016 UC Regents. All rights reserved.    Contact GEMS    Updated February 06, 2021