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ETD 23 A.Compare + Contrast Plant, ANimal , and Bacteria Cells. B. Why must cells stay small?
November 06, 2013 at 9:58am


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Tyler Brenneman
November 11, 2013 at 9:20pm


I learned that between the three different cells (plant, animal and bacteria) the only common parts are plasma membrane, DNA/RNA, ribosomes and cystosol.  I did not realize that animal cells were without cell walls and wonder why this is so.


 I had to research more on why cell walls aren't present in animals. I learned that animal cells don't have cell walls because the cell walls are made up of phospholipid bilayers and proteins. Even though the animal cells don't have cell wall for protection, it has endoskeletons and exoskeletons that can protect the cells as well.


Brett Babbel
November 13, 2013 at 7:38pm

Parent: Learned that the size of the cell matters and that smaller cells are much more efficient and necessary than larger cells. Didn't realize until now that photosynthesis was key in plants making sugar, emphasized again how important sugar is to living living cells even plants. 

Student: I had to gain better understanding to why the cells are the size they are so i could teach my mom. I re-learned that the cells are the size they are because of the surface area and volume ratio. If the cell is to large the ratio between the to is to small where as if its small the ratio is much bigger because the surface area is larger compared to the volume. This is important because now the cell can absorb more and get things across the cell faster like food and waste.

Kelli Vetter
November 19, 2013 at 8:46pm

Parent: I learned that plants and animal cells have a nucleus and bacteria has a nucleoid. I also learned that plants have chloroplasts in them because this helps create chlorophyll which provides food for the plant. I was surprised that bacteria was so simple compared to the animal and plant cells. I was also shocked that the plant cell is normal or "healthy" when the cell has more water than it can handle, which is also known as a "turgid" cell.

Student: I had to research more about cell walls so I could further explain why plant cells have them but animal cells don't. I understand now that animal cells need to be more flexible, and animals don't need to make their own food like plant cells do. Cell walls are necessary for plant cells because of the way how plant cells function (which is to make food from photosynthesis). I gained a better understanding on why each cell needed a different type of part to make the whole cell work. 

Jon Neil (Instructor)
November 20, 2013 at 10:25am

I'm impressed to see students drawing connections between plant cell organelles and turgid pressure, as we should see that the different cell organelles determine the how the cell functions and what external enviroments are suitable for it to survive in.  I encourage more of the students to take Kelli's example and increase their understanding of the importance of the Surface area to Volume ratio by sharing this with their other parent.  THe Surface Area to Volume Ratio's is directly link to our studie of osmosis and diffusion, which ultimately determines the maximum size of cells.

Selena Clem
November 24, 2013 at 6:53pm

Parent: Plant, animal and bacteria cells all have DNA, RNA, ribosomes,cell membrane and cytosol. Plants and animals are multi-cellular organisms,called Eukaryotes. They both have a nucleus, a nuclear membrane, nucleolus, and an endomembrane system. The endomembrane system is made up of an endoplasmic reticulum, a golgi apparatus, mitochondria, and peroxisomes. Bacteria are single-celled organisms, called prokaryotes. Similar to some animal cells, they have flagella or cilia. They also have capsules, operons, plasmids, and some have chloroplasts and cell walls like plants cells. Plant cells have plasmodesmoda, chloroplasts, and cell walls. Animal cells have lysosomes, desmosomes, and micro villi, as well as tight and gap junctions, and centrosomes. Cells need to be small to achieve an optimal surface area to volume ratio, which allows molecules to move faster throughout the cell. 

Student: Plant and Animal cells are multicellular organisms, making their structures similar as well as significantly more complex. Bacteria cells are single celled (prokaryotic) which have their DNA concentrated in a nucleoid, not bound by a membrane. The basic building blocks of a cell are DNA, a plasma membrane, ribosomes, and cytosol. Cells are so small because they maintain an efficient surface area to volume ratio allowing molecules to diffuse faster within the cell as well as across the selectively permeable membrane.

Kevin Turek
December 31, 2013 at 8:52am

Parent: My son showed me his diagram in his ETD that compared and contrasted the different cells. The animal and plant cell had a lot of similarities, while the bacteria had very little in it. Bacteria cells seem to have only a little more then the four basic things that all cells need. Although plants have one big vacuole, have cell walls and plasmodesmada. My son also explained that cells need to be small because this helps their function like performing diffusion.

Student: This was a very easy one to explain to my mom. One, I studied a lot on which of the three cells had what organelles, so my ability to explain it was enhanced. Also she already knew a lot of this already with some new stuff. Like what bacteria cells have. Then I just had to tell her that cells need to be small so that way diffusion can happen.

Madison Boggan
November 22, 2014 at 4:15pm

Parent: I completely understand why a cell must stay small. Prior to this, I had no idea and just thought they were small because they were small. Now I know that it is because they must be able to interact with their environment. Material must be able to be exchanged all throughout the cell as waste must travel all the way out and food must be able to get all the way in. This is easiest if a cell has little volume and a lot of surface area. Animals, plants and prokaryotes all have different pieces to their cell. Some aren't closed in (prokaryotes) and others are (eukaryotes). 

Student: I started by explaining to my mom that plants, animals and bacteria are all different organisms which is why their cells are all different. The main thing I emphasized is that euks have membrane bound organelles and proks don't. If you are a bigger company (proks) then it makes more sense to be organized and compartmentalized but if you are a one person company then anything goes and your items can be anywhere out in the open of your space. Cells are small because there can't be areas that food doesn't reach or waste builds up. A cell can't be too big for diffusion. This is like a line. It can't be too long that you never get to the front (food getting in) or you can't even find where the back of the line starts (waste getting out). 

Alyssa Hajek
December 05, 2016 at 8:42pm

Parent: This one went over my head but i could tell that my teacher was aware of my lost expressions and kept trying to find ways to make it make sense.  I have to say that she put in alot of effort but this old student didn't really grasp much that i could repeat.  I did have a better grasp on the volume vs. surface area portion and actually enjoyed learning that one.

Student: By teaching my dad about the differences between the three I learned a lot about what I am unsure about.  I started by going over what each exclusively had and then moved on to tell him about what they all had in common.  I now better understand that animal cells have gap junctions and tight junctions, plant cells have a cell wall and plasmodesmata, and bacteria cells have a capsule and plasmids.  After I explained all of this to my dad I reconnected this ETD with ETD #22 by asking him to recall the four components a cell must possess to be viable.  I then told him that these are the four components that all of these cells have in common because they are all alive.  I also went over the volume to surface area ratio.  I used an analogy of a water balloon because as you fill it with water, the amount of water increases a lot quicker than the surface area of the balloon will stretch.  I then told him that you have to have a good ratio of surface area to volume because otherwise the food and waste cannot get in and out. 

Piper Connell
January 01, 2017 at 7:29pm

Parent: It was interesting to see and hear of the overlapping areas and different combinations of similarity among the bacteria, plants, and animals.  Circular (Bacteria) vs linear structures of DNA, specialized cells vs non-specialized (Bacteria), energy producers (Plant) vs Consumers (animals), vacuoles (Plants) vs. vesicles (Animals), with flagella and without (Plants).  I also learned the size of cells is a result of the surface area: volume ratio and the movement of food and waste within the cell - osmosis and diffusion.

Student: I taught this ETD to my dad. I found that it was very helpful to draw pictures along with explaining what each word was. My dad picked up on the information very quickly. We even got to more in depth conversations about why plants and animals have double membrane organelles. I was able to relate this back to previous conversations about the minimal viable cells. My mom joined the conversation at that point. It was useful to revisit the information and it makes even more sense now as to why plants, animals, and bacteria have their similarities, especially after finishing our cellular respiration and photosynthesis unit.

Katarina Zosel
November 26, 2017 at 10:58pm

Parent-Differences between plant, animal and bacteria cells. The most simple is the most difference. A nucleoid region (storing the DNA)  rather than a nucleus is key to bacteria. They also have a capsule to act as extra protection around their cell. 

The plant only has a large central vacule to keep water (because they can't move to find water), channels between the cells called plasmodesmadas(spelling?), a cell wall and chloroplasts. 

Animal cells are unique because they lysosomes- digestive enzymes. They have storages vesicles.

All three of them have DNA, RNA, a plasma membrane, cytoplasm and ribosomes which are really the 5 basic ingredients for a cell.

Why do cells stay small? Well, this has much to do with the cell's ability to take in nutirents and excrete it without using a lot of energy. Fun fact, the largest cells are Newt cells... because they live in water so difusion doesn't take much(if any) energy. 

Student- I drew a diagram of each of the cells and described what made each one unique, drawing a picture of each and explaing their functions. Then I went through what was similar between each of the groups, and finally what all three had in common. I tried to make it enganging by explaining why evolutionarily certain groups contained the organlles they did. For the second half I explained the mathametical relationship between surface area and volume and made an analogy to a small factory where everyone knows eachother to a massive one requiring cars to get from one place to another in terms of productivity.


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