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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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Saanvi Mehrtora
January 28, 2019 at 5:58pm

Parent: Saanvi taught me what it really takes to be "ALIVE". To remember the requirments of what it takes to be living, she taught us a an acronym. The acronym C BIG MRS GRENDE, can be used to remember what it takes to be alive. Saanvi taught me what each letter stands for. 

Cells  Balance,Interconnected,Genes  Motion,Reproduce,Senses  Growth,Respiration,Excrete,Nutrition,Die,Evolove.

I find it intresting that only a small list like this can describe what it really takes to be alive!

Student: I explained to my parent what it really means to be "Alive" in a biological sense. I explain to them all the components of C BIG MRS GRENDE. Teaching this to my parents was a great review for me! I'm glad a took the chance to teach them because it helped me comprehend my information more.

Dane Bowman
January 28, 2019 at 1:40am

Parent: Dane explained that the requirements for something to be considered alive, it must have Cells, it must achieve Balance within its ecosystem, it must Interconnected with its ecosystem, the organisms within that ecosystem and its environment, it must have Genes, it must be in Motion, it must be capable of Reproduction, it must have Senses, it must be capable of Growth and Respiration (the production and creation of energy), it must release excess energy through Excretion, it must take in Nutrition (absorption of energy), it must be capable of Dying and it must Evolve. These factors are summarized in the acronym "C BIG MRS GRENDE".

Student: I explained to my father the C BIG MRS GRENDE acronym, what each of the letters stood for, and what they meant to an organism, and contributed to it being alive. I explained that all living things must contain cells, have balance, are interconnected with their environment, contain genes, have motion, reproduce, have senses, are able to grow, resperate, execrete, gain nutrition, die, and evolve. I also briefly talked about the discussion over wether or not a virus is alive, and why it is considered not to be. 

Sarah Kropelnicki
January 14, 2019 at 6:38pm

Parent: Sarah taught me, using the acronym C BIG MRS GRENDE, the attributes that all living things must have, such as growth, respiration, excretion, nutrition, motion, reproduction, etc.  She explained each attribute to me, talking about what balance means, that there is a system where everything balances out, that genes mean that every living thing must have DNA that contains instructions for the organism and all of its parts, that nutrition means that the organism must have sun or food of some kind to make energy from, and so forth.

Student: For Entry Task 1, I went over the necessities for something to be alive. The acronym for this is C BIG MRS GRENDE. Some of these are a bit self explanatory while others are more complex concepts. We went over how all living things must be made of one or more cells (single or multi cellular), there must be some kind of balance between all living things (the food chain, the circle of life--it all balances out and has a process that works), there must be interconnected species that aid each other in survival, they must have some form of DNA, etc. 

Nicole Stan
January 07, 2019 at 12:58pm

Parent: My daughter taught me the acronym used to explain what it takes to be alive. I learned C BIG MRS GRENDE which stands for cells, balance, interconnected, genes, motion, reproduce, sense, grow, respiration, excretion, nutrition, die, and evolve. I previously thought that for something to be alive, it just had to be breathing, to be able to reproduce and to have a cellular system, but it is in fact more complex than I thought.

Student: I taught my mom about C BIG MRS GRENDE and how that acroynm is important for an organism to live. Cells, balance, interconnection, genes, motion, reproduce, sense, grow, respiration, excretion, nutrition, dying and evolving, need to be there for something to be considered "alive". This helped me review the acronym for the semster final and for the AP test because some time has passed since we talked about it. 

Erin Kim
October 07, 2018 at 7:38pm

Parent: erin taught us that C BIG MRS GRENDE stands for cells, balance, interconnected, genes, motions, reproduction, sense, growth, respiration, excretion, nutrients, die, and evolve. She went over each term and explained how they relate to biology. 

Student: I told my parents what C BIG MRS GRENDE stood for and how they connected to biology. I explained that all of these components are needed for an organism to be alive. I used examples in my explanation like how fire burning wood is like respiration because it uses oxygen to create carbon dioxide. By teaching this to my parents I was able to review my notes and remember the acronym. 

Ashlyn Bair
October 02, 2018 at 3:41pm

Parent -   to be alive you must meet the requirements of C BIG MRS GRENDE. we had a discussion about what constitutes movement. I was convinced a tree does move :) The ones I guessed on my own we’re respiration and death. I didn’t know life had so many requirements  

student- I better understand the acronym. I was getting them mixed up; there are so many. I explained the acronym and can now explain what the heck balance is without sounding like a total idiot. 

Estelle Neathery
January 25, 2018 at 10:02pm

Parent: Estelle taught me the acronym "C BIG MRS GRENDE". Each letter in this acronym represents one criteria for being alive. They stand for Cells, Balance, Interconnected, Genes, Motion, Respiration, Sense, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion, Nutrition, Death and Evolution. I thought the interconnection aspect was interesting because all living things are somehow connected to other organisms in their ecosystem, whether we realize it or not. 

Student: Teaching this section to my mom helped me review past knowledge. I gave the example of humans and other animals that display all 13 criteria of life, and discussed what that meant. Giving analogies and examples helps both my mom and I in comprehending/reviewing information. 

Eli Smith
January 24, 2018 at 8:38pm

 Parent: I learned the C BIG MRS GRENDE acronym that describes each essential element of what it means to be alive.  Life requires this series of elements, and as we considered all forms of life--plants, animals, humans--they can each check off each of these requirements. Even simple plants reproduce, have unique genetic makeups, and have a form of respiration.  We discussed how there is debate relating to some forms of viruses because they can't perform all of these elements without a host.

Student: I taught my mom about the acronym C BIG MRS GRENDE. And discussed with her about the various different parts of the acronym. In teaching the acronym to my mom, I thought about how much variation there is between the many different living things on earth yet they still all fit this criteria, and how amazing both the uniformity and diversity there is on our planet. Also how important interconnection is in the body. I could did if just one cell stopped working in the wrong place.

Nolan Peters
January 23, 2018 at 8:31pm

Parent: I had never really considered whether things other than humans were really alive or dead. Having an acronym to explain this concept is very interesting and makes it easier to remember. C BIG MRS GRENDE is easily relatable to real life because each word actually makes some sense. Now I remember that if I ever kill a bug, it is not alive because of M, motion.

Student: I taught my parents C BIG MRS GRENDE and how it showed whether an organism was truly alive or not. They actually seemed pretty interested in this and it was also a good review for me. I brought up a point in which if you kill a fly, it is no longer conducting motion by itself so it cannot be alive any longer. This is a good acronym to know and review.

Bre Glover
January 23, 2018 at 4:29pm


I learned C BIG MRS Grende, which stands for cells, balance, interconnections, genes, motion, reproduction, senses, grow, respiration, excretion, nutrition, death and evolve. This really narrowed down my thinking of what it takes to be alive. Instead of being just simply breathing, eating, drinking, etc, it comes down to a lot of commonalities that living organisms share.




I taught my parent about C BIG MRS GRENDE, and how it is vital for something to live. Every single one of these points: cells, balance, interconnections, genes, motion, reproduction, sense, grow, respiration, excretion, nutrition, death and evolve, need to be in place in order for something to be seen as living. This really helped me reiterate the meaning of the acronym, as I have been a bit rusty on it. As we have gone more in-depth about biology, it is easy to forget the basics--but without the basics, we don’t have life!!!

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