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Home School Life Journal ................................................................................................................painting by Katie Bergenholtz

Classifying Life: The Five Kingdom System

The Five Kingdom System

Everything living can be divided into one of these five groups or kingdoms.

1. Monera

Notebook page of a prokaryotic cell from Kingdom Monera and Nature Study #206: Bacteria.

Monera contains all organisms that are composed for prokaryotic cells. Bacteria are the most well-known members of this kingdom.

Bacteria colonies from Kingdom Monera and Nature Study #206: Bacteria

You can study bacteria by doing a simple experiment of culture growths using unwashed and washed hands and comparing the two.

Factors that Affect Bacterial Growth

You can also show some of the factors that inhibit bacterial growth, which can lead to a discussion on how we preserve our food.
We are launching into a unit on bacteria, and so we began with the question of what factors affect bacterial growth. 
Even if you don't have a microscope, you can see bacterial growth though this simple demonstration.

First dissolve one chicken bouillon cube in 1 1/3 cups of hot water from the faucet. Equally divide the solution between four small glasses. 
Now, to one of the glasses, add a teaspoon of salt and label it. 
To the second glass, add a teaspoon of vinegar and label this glass. 

Label the third glass "cold" and put it in the refrigerator and label the last glass "control". 
Leave all of the glasses uncovered. After two days, compare the clearness of the liquids.

take a piece of white paper and write a word on it with a colored marker. Put the paper behind each of the glasses, starting with the "control" glass and note in your science notebook whether you can see the word clearly, mostly see it, barely see it or see it not at all through the glass.

During the two days the glasses sat, bacteria entered the liquids on dust and the bacteria fed on the chicken bouillon, growing and multiplying, clouding the bouillon. The cloudier the bouillon, the more bacterial growth.

The results?
The control was the cloudiest. 

The salt and...

the refrigerated glasses 

were a little less cloudy, so they prevented some bacterial growth. 
The vinegar glass had even less bacterial growth, because it was pretty clear. 

This makes sense since during the Middle Ages, before refrigeration, many foods were salted or pickled. 
Other ways of preserving food were invented, such as dehydration, as bacteria must also have moisture to survive. Later canning was developed, in which the bacteria was killed by heat and then sealed so that no new bacteria could enter the food.

2. Protista
Notebook page of a Eukaryotic cell from Kingdom Protista.

Protista, although are also microscopic, are a lot bigger than them members of the Monera kingdom. They are also different because they made up of eukaryotic cells.  This kingdom is split into two groups; protozoa and algae.
Notebook page of an Euglena from the Kingdom Protista.

Protozoa are often among one of the first things we see under a microscope -Euglena, Amoeba and Paramecium.
Algae, Kingdom Protista

Algae can easily be found in ponds or other stagnant water.

3. Fungi
Kingdom Fungi
The members of the Fungi kingdom are the decomposers.  It consists of members such as mushrooms, shelf fungi, mold and yeast.
From James' (age 14) notebook

Yeast as a Decomposer

This demonstration will show the function of decomposers using yeast, on of the members of the Kingdom Fungi.
This is a very simple demonstration. You just cut two slices off of a peeled banana, that are relatively the same size. Place each slice in a separate baggie. Sprinkle some Baker's yeast over one of the slices in the bag and then seal it up. 
The other one you just seal up. It is your control. Place them somewhere they won't be disturbed and check them every day for a week or more. 
Here they are, one week later. The control banana has browned a little, but has not really decomposed at all. The banana with the yeast has, however, become one substance as the yeast has broken down the banana. You can't really see where the banana ends and the yeast ends.

We are all familiar with this kingdom as we see it every day, but there are a couple of interesting things about this kingdom that sets it apart from the others.

Turgor Pressure

Use a wilted celery stalk with a small slice cut off the bottom. Fill a glass half-way full of colored water and put the celery in. When they see that the wilted stalk stands up again, you can talk about how plant and animal cells are different. Animal cells are round and the nucleus, which contains the DNA, are in the center. Plant cells are more square in shape and have a cell wall. The nucleus is not in the center, but have something called the central vacuole in the center. This vacuole is like a water balloon and when the cells have plenty of water, this vacuole fills up and presses against the cell wall, causing rigidity in the cell. This rigidity in the cells makes the plant in general stand up straight. It is the water leaving the cells that make plants wilt.

Vegetative Reproduction

The similarities of algae (from the kingdom Protista) and plants make the distinction between the two confusing at times. Algae, however, do not have specialize structures like roots, stems and leaves that plants have.
 This difference can be demonstrated through vegetative reproduction, the process by which the stem of a plant can form new roots and develop into a mature plant. You will need some celery and a dish with water.
 Cut the celery stalks so that you have a few inches from the bottom left on it.
Place the celery in the dish of water and sit the dish somewhere that it is comfortably warm and well lit. Check the dish daily, keeping the dish supplied with water. Note any new developments.
Hopefully you will see the stem grown into another full-fledged plant, which you can then plant in soil. You could also demonstrate this with an Ivy or other houseplant instead.
Algae, on the other hand, does not reproduce with specialized structures.

5. Animalia

The last kingdom is also very familiar to us (in fact we are members of it!) In fact, a in-depth study of the human body is next for us.

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  1. Brilliant comprehensive post, as usual - thank you! The yeasty banana is amazing.

  2. It looks like a great start to a bacteria unit.

  3. An informative post as always. I hope you enjoy your microbe study as much as we did!


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