Characteristics of living organisms + kids Select a lesson
What are living things made up of

Five characteristics of living organisms + childrenThe characteristics of living organismsLiving organisms contain cellsLiving things obtain and use energyLiving organisms undergo growth and developmentLiving things make their offspringsLiving things respond to stimuli



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WHat are living things made up of



Living things obtain and use energy

Cells cannot survive on their own. They need power to stay alive. They need energy to perform functions such as growth, maintaining balance, repair, reproduction, movement and defense. This means all living organisms must obtain and use energy to live.

Energy is the power to do things. This power comes in many ways and forms, but they can all be linked to the sun. It is the source of all energy.

A living organism can either make its own food or depend on others to make food for them. For example green plants produce their own food from a process called photosynthesis. They use the chloroplasts in their cells to capture energy in sunlight. They combine it with water and carbon dioxide from the air to produce sugars for themselves. Green plants are therefore known as producers or
autotrophs. Bacteria can also make their own food or breakdown food.

Other organisms eat green plants (which has a store of the energy they produce) to obtain energy. They are known as consumers or
heterotrophs. Rabbits and sheep are examples of consumers. Herbivores, carnivores and omnivores are all consumers, and they all have to go find food to give them energy.

The process of obtaining and using energy by living organisms are best explained by three important scientific terms namely
Anabolism, Catabolism and Metabolism. Take a look at the illustration below:

What does anabolism mean

what is anabolismAnabolism (constructive anabolism)
This is a process where by living organisms use simpler substances to put together, or build complex substances such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats for storage. Such an activity is known as an anabolic activity.

what is catabolismCatabolism (destructive catabolism)

This is when the cells in living organisms, breakdown complex substances and molecules into simpler substances, often to release energy for use.

what is metabolismMetabolism
This is the sum of all the chemical reactions (anabolic and catabolic activities) that go on in the cells of living organisms. It is a continous process because the moment metabolism stops, the living organism will die.

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