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ETD 1: A. What does it REALLY take to be "ALIVE"?
September 30, 2013 at 3:28pm


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Peter Seely
September 16, 2015 at 7:41pm

Parent: Peter explained that for something to be alive, it must  "C BIG MRS GRENDE":  have Cells, Balance, be Interconnected, have Growth, Motion, Reproduction, Senses, Genes, Respiration, Nutrition, Die, and Evolve.

Student: I told my mom about "C BIG MRS GRENDE" and how all the characteristics must be present in order for something to truly be alive. I also explained somewhat more in depth the concepts of balance, interconnectedness, and respiration, talking about how balance meant that cells and living organisms regulated themselves, that respiration meant cellular respiration, and that all forms of life are interconnected on many levels, from an individual to a whole ecosystem.

Soleia Weisenburger
October 05, 2015 at 9:02pm


I learned the acronym c big mrs grende.  I asked how a tree responds and we discussed how we thought it did that.  I thought it was very interesting overall.


It helped remind me about CBIG MRS GRENDE because it is the secrets to life and having to look back over it and teach to someone else made me have to remind myslef of everyrhing and what we talked about in class because aliveness is very important to what we study in class and how everything works especially because I had to point out and refigure out how a few of the pieces related to each other.

Melissa Anthony
October 13, 2015 at 9:03pm


Today Melissa taught me the acronym BIG MRS GRENDE to describe the criteria for life.  We talked about how 3D printers are not alive, despite showing many of the attributes, while bread dough kinda is.  I also learned that Mr. Neil makes some pretty silly drawings.


This reminded me about the acronym and how long it was. He challenged each of the characteristics, so I explained that sensing didn't have to be complex like an eye and that it doesn't qualify whether something had died yet but whether it's alive at all.

Makaila Heifner
October 18, 2015 at 6:17pm

Parent: Makaila explained that every living thing must be linked to CBIG MRS GRENDE. I thought this was interesting and had Makaila explain what some of the terms meant, such as how a living thing had to be balanced. 

Student: Going over this helped to solidify CBIG MRS GRENDE and which each part meant. While explaining each part, it made me think of everyday examples which I found helpful. 

Adam Wulfing
October 31, 2015 at 12:38pm

Parent:  Cells, Balance (conservation of mass?), Interconnected (adaptation?), Growth, Movement (plant?, ok cilla), Reproduce (vs. a virus), Sense, Genes (DNA / pass on), Respiration, Extriotian? (waste), Nutrition, Dying (requirement for life is that it has to end), Evolution (change with environmental change)

Student:  I learned how to communicate my ideas a lot easier as well as making my explanations more in depth which can be useful in the short answer responses on the AP test. In addition to this I was able to understand C BIG MRS GRENDE a lot easier being able to teach it to someone else. For example i was able to relate viruses which are not alive regardless that they have genes and reproduce because they are unable to replicate on their own and instead need a host cell to help them.  

Alex Gibbs
November 01, 2015 at 7:50pm


I learned about the criteria that needed to happen in order for life to exist. We talked about the acronym cbigmrsgrende and criteria each letter stood for. 


I taught my parent about C BIG MRS GRENDE and what each letter stood for.Cells (everything needs cells to live), Balance (defining), Interconnected (cause and effect), Growth (size and numbers), Motion, Reproduction(have to be able to create more of them), Sense (sense the environment), Genes(characteristics&DNA), Respiration (osmosis), Excretion (waste), Nutrition (what the cell uses to create energy), Death (life cycle), Evolve (mutations& adapting).

Anne Sweeney
November 16, 2015 at 6:20pm

Parent: I am a big proponent of acronyms so I found C BIG MRS GRENDE a great one for learning the qualifications of a living creature .  I wonder who came up with these in order to prove something is alive?  It is interesting that death is a qualifier for life.  If we kept that in mind we might lead more meaningful existences.  

Student: While teaching my mom the C BIG MRS GRENDE acronym, it helped me to better understand how these qualifying words connect to everything we are learning and can be useful in every situation. Teaching it also helped me to memorize the definitions.

Lauren Masters
November 25, 2015 at 11:24am

Parent: I did not know that there were 13 requirements to be alive. I thought all you needed was food, water, and oxygen.

Student: I taught my mom about C BIG MRS GRENDE to explain the different requirements to being alive. This acronym makes it easier to remember the components to being alive.                                                   

Kate Freeman
January 09, 2016 at 10:03am

Parent: I was taught today about the conditions needed for life using the C BIG MRS GRENDE acronym. She explained that to be "alive", an organism must possess cells, be able to take in food and chemicals, and have the ability to grow and reproduce.  The acronym was explained as well, using a fire metaphor to help explain the Respiration component that uses oxygen to give off energy and CO2.  I was also taught how all these components fit together.

Student: I explained to my dad the Acronym C BIG MRS GRENDE and what each letter stood for: Cells, Balance, Interconnected, Growth, Motion, Reproduction, Sense, Genes, Respiration, Exertion, Nutrition, Die, and Evolve. I explained how everything must be interconnected in order for the entire process of life to function properly. I then discussed analogies in order to get my point across further, such as how wood burning in a fire is similar to respiration. As the wood burns, it combines with oxygen and releases heat energy and carbon dioxide. My analogies and the acronym helped me to remember each component of life and how each functions. 

Kieran Lowe
September 03, 2016 at 2:21pm

Parent: My son came home today and after dinner with his brother back from college kept going through how all the different parts of the food were gross and strange although he seemed more excited than worried. He talked to me About C BIG MRS GRENDE which he (with a good deal of excitement) told me was the scientific version of what's living and what isn't living which was actually pretty interesting he kept forgetting them so we had a little game of trying to figure them out.

Student: went out with my family tonight and taught them all about C BIG MRS Grende and all the parts that go in it the Cells, Balance, Interconnected, genes, Motion, Respiration, Sense, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion, Nutrition, Death and Evolution. Things are good at the Lowe house tonight but I have to get through my homework from WE THE PEOPE, AP BIO, College writing and Pre-calc. so yeah busy busy but I'm going to PAX Prime on Monday so that's gonna be awesome. Although  the little Protozoah guy the Planarian was actually really cool.

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