Cell Division and Differentiation: Multicellular Organization

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 third of three Science Objects in the Cell Division and Differentiation SciPack. It investigates the hierarchy and various structures of the groups of specialized and unspecialized cells in multicellular organisms.

Each type of cell forms tissues and organs that comprise the final organism. This differentiation is regulated through the expression of different genes. Differentiation and specialization is necessary in multicellular organisms because maintaining a full complement of all cellular capabilities is costly and/or incompatible with meeting all the organism’s needs.

Groups of specialized cells cooperate to form a tissue, such as a muscle. Different tissues are in turn grouped together to form larger functional units, called organs. Each type of cell, tissue, and organ has a distinct structure and set of functions that serve the organism as a whole. Different body tissues and organs are made up of different kinds of cells. Undifferentiated cells, called adult stem cells, also exist among the differentiated cells in tissues and organs of mature multicellular organisms. These adult stem cells function primarily to maintain and repair the tissue in which they are found through regulated growth and differentiation.

Learning Outcomes:
  • Compare and contrast how cells, tissue and organs function in a multicellular organism.
  • Explain why stem cells are important in adult organisms.
  • Explain how stem cell therapies can be effective for treating some diseases and conditions.


Elementary SchoolMiddle SchoolHigh School


Type Science ObjectStock # SCB-CDD.3.1

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