ALEX Learning Activity


Explore the Cell Cycle

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Nancy Caffee
System:Blount County
School:Blount County Career Technical Center
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2122
Explore the Cell Cycle
Digital Tool/Resource:
Cells Alive! Interactive Cell Cycle
Web Address – URL:

This simulation uses an interactive model of the cell cycle to demonstrate the growth and maintenance of eukaryotic cells. Students can stop the cycle to observe and read about what is happening to the cell at each stage. 

This activity results from the ALEX Resource Gap Project.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 9-12
4 ) Develop and use models to explain the role of the cell cycle during growth and maintenance in multicellular organisms (e.g., normal growth and/or uncontrolled growth resulting in tumors).

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
L12.3: Cellular processes are regulated both internally and externally by environments in which cells exist, including local environments that lead to cell differentiation during the development of multicellular organisms. During the development of complex multicellular organisms, cell differentiation is regulated through the expression of different genes.

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Developing and Using Models
Crosscutting Concepts: Systems and System Models
Disciplinary Core Idea: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Illustrate the amount of time spent in each phase of the cell cycle by a cell.
  • Develop and use a model to describe patterns in typical cell growth and relate those patterns to the mechanisms of cell reproduction for growth, differentiation, and repair.
  • Develop a model of chromosome movement and use the model to explain the maintenance of chromosome number during meiosis.
  • Use chromosome models to illustrate mitosis and explain the role of mitosis in maintaining populations of cells.
  • Use a model to demonstrate errors that may occur during cell division.
  • Identify the strengths and limitations of a model in representing the cell cycle and cell differentiation.
  • Use evidence to describe the internal and external factors that influence cell cycle control mechanisms.
  • Use a model to compare multiple pathways to tumor formation.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Cell cycle
  • Chromosome
  • Somatic cell
  • Chromatin
  • Spindle fibers
  • Kinetochore microtubules
  • Centrioles
  • Centrosome
  • Centromere
  • Sister chromatids
  • Mitosis
  • Prometaphase
  • Prophase
  • Metaphase
  • Metaphase plate
  • Anaphase
  • Telophase
  • Cytokinesis
  • Cell plate
  • Cleavage furrow
  • Interphase
  • S phase
  • G1
  • G2
  • Growth
  • Maintenance
  • Checkpoints
  • Signaling factors
Students know:
  • The phases of the cell cycle (Interphase-G1, S, and G2 phases, Mitosis and cytokenisis), the amount of time spent in each cycle and what occurs during each cycle.
  • The process of cell cycle regulation.
  • Mechanisms, checkpoints and signaling factor molecules that regulate the cell cycle.
Students are able to:
  • Generate a graphic illustrating the amount of time a cell spends in each phase of the cell cycle.
  • Observe video, image or microscope slide and identify cells in each phase, relative abundance, and estimate the time spent in each phase.
  • Obtain and communicate information about the relationship between the cell cycle and the growth and maintenance of an organism.
  • Illustrate chromosome behavior during mitosis using chromosome models.
  • Distinguish between replicated and un-replicated chromosomes.
  • Demonstrate the events and cellular processes involved in each stage of mitosis.
  • Investigate the impact of errors in the process of cell division.
  • Identify the basic mechanisms, checkpoints, and general categories of signaling factor molecules (both internal and external).
  • Relate errors in control mechanisms to uncontrolled cell growth (cancer).
Students understand that:
  • The cell cycle is necessary for growth and maintenance in multi-cellular organisms.
  • Mitosis only makes somatic (body) cells.
  • Errors in control mechanisms within the cell cycle lead to uncontrolled cell growth (cancer).
AMSTI Resources:
ASIM Module:
The Cell Cycle

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.B.HS.4- Use a model to illustrate how growth occurs when cells multiply and recognize that uncontrolled growth can lead to the development of tumors (e.g., cancer).

Learning Objectives:

Students will:

  • use a digital model to explain the role of the cell cycle.
  • describe each phase of the cell cycle.
  • compare the time the cell spends in mitosis to interphase.
  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

1. Students begin by playing the interactive simulation of the cell cycle.

2. Students click on each stage of the cell cycle beginning with interphase and ending with mitosis and observe what is happening in the cell at each point.

3. Students will complete the diagram worksheet of the cell cycle provided in the Assessment Strategy.

Assessment Strategies:

Complete the free Cell Cycle Worksheet

Advanced Preparation:

Students should have a brief introduction to mitosis and meiosis. 

Variation Tips (optional):

Students draw their own diagram describing the cell cycle and the phases of mitosis.

Notes or Recommendations (optional):

This activity can be completed showing the whole group or individual students.

  Keywords and Search Tags  
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