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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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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.

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. 

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!!!

Brody Magbaleta
October 11, 2017 at 6:58pm

Parent: Today I was lucky enough to be taught a biology lesson by my son. He shared with me the concept of what does it mean to be "alive"? These are all things that are a natural part of our daily lives that are so amazing but we just take for granted. I love the acronym C BIG MRS GRENDE for remembering all these important aspects. Without any one of these things life would not survive. 

Student: Tonight, I taught my parents the acronym C BIG MRS GRENDE and told them that this is what it meat to be "alive". Teaching this helped me review what each letter meant and a specific example. C (cells, eukaryotic cells have a nucleus), B (balance, teeter totter), I (interconnection, spider web), G (genes, DNA), M (motion, movement of organisms), R (reproduce, mitosis), S (senses, eyeball), G (grow, small to big), R (respiration, fire), E (excretion, pee), N (nutrition, pacman), D (die, RIP), E (evolve, change). 

Catherine Dennis
October 11, 2017 at 5:53pm


Today Catherine taught me about an acronym she learned, “C~BIG~MRS~GRENDE” which is used to describe the aspects of being a living organism. The “C” stands for cells because all living things are made of one or more cells. “B” is for balance, which an organism needs to survive. “I” is for interconnectedness because all living things must be able to communicate either to other organism or the environment. “G” stands for genes or our genetic code. “M” is for motion meaning a living thing must be able to move. “R” is for reproduction because all living things need a mechanism of reproduction. “S” is for senses in order for the living thing to survive in its habitat. “G” also stands for growth meaning the living thing must develop in some way. “R” is also in reference to respiration which living things must be able to do. “E” is excretion to rid of any waste. “N” is nutrition which provided living things with energy. “D” means the living thing must eventually die. And finally the “E” means evolution or the ability of the living thing to change over time. 

Student: Going over the acronym C BIG MRS GRENDE with my mom who is also a science teacher allowed me to facilitate good conversation about real life scenarios that can relate to this acronym used to describe the aspects of being alive. For example, The M stands for motion, which makes me think of things like animals and humans where you can see them moving, but just because you can't see them move doesn't mean they aren't alive. Living things like plants or finger nails move constantly like us, just at a slower rate. So there are lots of things that fall under the being alive category, even if you can't see it with the naked eye.

Christal Gutierrez
October 29, 2016 at 8:50pm

Parent: Christal explained to me how one can stay alive or considered to be alive.   She gave me the acronym, C BIG MRS GRENDE, and for which each letter stands for.  Her explanation was very clear, that for us to be alive, our cells and senses should be working and that all should be functioning in our body.  But in the case of some insect like spiders, the male spiders sacrifice themselves for the sake of the female spiders and that is for the latters reproduction.

Student: I teach and explain to my aunt on how to take an organisms to be alive with the acronym C BIG MRS GRENDE in which cells are the basic unit of the body, how organisms need homeostasis to balance their body, how we need oxgyen and carbon dioxiode in order to survive, how reproduction also helps to create life for futher generation and how cillia prevents dirt on entering the body and fagella that helps move the cell. This acronym is easy to use to help me explain to my aunt and for me to remember how these are essential for being alive.

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. 

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.

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