Cells and Chemical Reactions: Basics of Metabolism

Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the first of four Science Objects in the Cells and Chemical Reactions SciPack. It investigates the basics of cellular metabolisms in plants and animals.

Chemical reactions occur in all cells, are fundamental to cell functions, and are essential to maintain the chemical and physical organization of living systems. All living organisms engage in metabolic processes that take place inside their cells. Metabolism refers to all of the chemical activities and reactions in cells and organisms that are necessary for life. Metabolic processes can be categorized into two types, which are distinguished by their function in growth and maintenance of living cells: synthesis, chemical reactions that use energy to synthesize large and complex carbon-based molecules from smaller molecules; decomposition, chemical reactions that release energy from chemical bonds by decomposing the large molecules into smaller, simpler and lower-energy molecules. The energy released in decomposition is used to synthesize large molecules and in other cellular work, including: movement, maintenance and organization, transport of molecules, and transmission of nerve impulses. A large set of protein catalysts, called enzymes are required for both synthesis and decomposition chemical reactions. Because all matter tends toward disorganized states, constant input of energy is required by all cells to maintain chemical and physical organization. Without this organization, cells and organisms die, and with death (the cessation of energy input) living systems rapidly disintegrate.


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Type Science Object

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