In 1665, Robert Hooke observed thin slices of cork through a primitive microscope. The cork slices were divided into thousands of tiny boxes, which Hooke named “cells” because they reminded him of monk’s cells in a monastery. Over 150 years later, Matthias Schleiden and Theodor Schwann codified years of observations into the cell theory: all living organisms are composed of cells, the cell is the basic unit of structure and function in an organism, and cells arise from other cells.
In the new Cell Types Gizmo, students are introduced to the diversity of cells that exist in nature, from bacteria and protists to specialized animal cells such as neurons and red blood cells. Along the way, students will learn how to focus a microscope and how to apply special tests to determine if a sample is alive. The applications of this Gizmo are endless—from describing the characteristics of living things to identifying prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells; distinguishing unicellular and multicellular organisms; and describing the structure of plant, animal, and fungi cells. Happy exploring!