Biology » Introduction to Biology » Skills In Life Sciences

Summary and Main Ideas


When you hear the word biology, what do you think of? Biology is the study of life. When you study biology you will learn about all of the different kinds of living things. You will learn where they live, what they are like, how they depend on each other, and how they behave.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between living and nonliving things. At times, nonliving things have one or more of the characteristics of life, but it is necessary to have all of the characteristics of life to be considered living. Things that have all of the characteristics of life are known as organisms.

Even though biologists and other scientists study many different types of things, they all use the same basic steps. The common steps they use to do research and answer questions are called scientific methods. Scientists often figure out questions to ask and answer just by observing the world around them.

Drawings and diagrams are an essential part of communication in science, and especially biology. Remember it is not an artwork or sketch! But rather it is a clear representation of what you observe which can be used to interpret what you saw.

Safety is an important factor that scientists think about when carrying out investigations and experiments. It is important to know about dangers that may exist from doing an experiment before you begin it. Anyone doing an experiment has a responsibility to follow safety procedures


adaptation (a dap TAY shun):

any structure, behavior, or internal process that enables an organism to respond to environmental factors and survive to produce offspring


the study of life that seeks to provide an understanding of the natural world


in an experiment, the standard against which results are compared


information gathered from an experiment

dependent variable:

the condition in an experiment that results from the changes made to the independent variable


the changes that take place during an organism’s life; one of the characteristics of all living things


the ability to cause change


the surroundings to which an organism must adjust; includes air, water, weather, temperature, organisms, and other factors


the moral principles and values held by society

evolution (e vuh LEW shun):

gradual change in a species through adaptations over time


an investigation that tests a hypothesis by collecting information under controlled conditions


changes in an organism resulting in an increase in the amount of living material and the formation of new structures; one of the characteristics of all living things

homeostasis (hoh mee oh STAY sus):

an organism’s ability to control its internal environment to maintain conditions suitable for survival

hypothesis (hi PAHTH us sus):

an explanation for a question or problem that can be tested

independent variable:

in an experiment, the condition that is tested because it affects the outcome of the experiment


anything that possesses all the characteristics of life


the orderly structure of cells in an organism; one of the characteristics of all living things


the production of offspring; a characteristic of all living things


an organism’s reaction to a change in its environment

scientific methods:

common steps that scientists use to do research and answer questions

species (SPEE sheez):

a group of organisms capable of mating with each other and producing offspring who can also reproduce


anything in the environment that causes an organism to react

technology (tek NAHL uh jee):

the application of scientific research to society’s needs and problems.


an explanation of a natural phenomenon or event that is supported by a large body of scientific evidence obtained from many different investigations and observations

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