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Magnifying and Observing Cells

Author(s): Barbara Tharp, MS, and Nancy Moreno, PhD

Let’s Talk About It: Comparing Cells

Once students have completed their observations, either have them discuss their observations in small groups or conduct a class discussion. Help students to understand the functions of each structure they have located in the cells. Students should have been able to observe the following structures in one or both samples. 

  • Nucleus - Structure in cell that holds hereditary information and is bounded by a membrane. Nuclei are found in plant, animal and protist cells. Usually, they are not usually visible in Elodea samples.
  • Cytoplasm – All of the contents that fill the cell between the cell membrane and the nucleus. Plant cells often have a large sac surrounded by a membrane, called the central vacuole, within the cytoplasm. A large central vacuole sometimes causes the nucleus to appear pressed against the cell wall.
  • Cell wall - Strong wall outside the cell membrane (or plasma membrane) of some cells, such as those of plants. Animal cells do not have cell walls.
  • Chloroplasts - Green structures, located within the cytoplasm, in which photosynthesis takes place. Chloroplasts are a kind of organelle, a specialized subunit within a cell that has a specific function and is surrounded by a membrane. Chloroplasts will be present only in the Elodea leaves.

As an assessment, ask students to record the similarities and differences they observed between the two cell samples.

Funded by the following grant(s)

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Grant Number: 5R25RR018605