Topic Guide: Biology

    • In this biology topic guide we will be looking at: humans and other animals, plants, ecosystems, the environment, genetics, and evolution.

      Humans and other animals

      Animals come in all shapes and sizes, from sharks to cows, from dogs to humans. All animals are comprised of cells, the basic building blocks of your body. You can find out more about cells at Centre of the Cell’s website, which has useful information about cells and some fun games for you to try.

      Cells make up all sorts of body parts, including things like skeletons and muscles. If you need some help knowing which bone connects to that other bone, then the Oxford University Museum of Natural History have produced a pdf to help you.

      If you want to know how muscles attached themselves to the skeleton so we can move, the Wellcome Collection has an anatomical drawing of leg muscles, showing how they attach to the leg bones.


      You may have noticed that most plants are green in colour – but why? The Science Museum can help answer this with a green map of the world created by scientists to see how healthy the planet’s plants are.
      Some plants reproduce through being pollinated - the Australian Museum has the answers to many questions about pollination.


      An ecosystem is the word we use to refer to a group of animals and plants that live together in the same area. You find out more about ecosystems at the University of British Columbia’s botanical garden website.

      Ecosystems can be very fragile. When European sailors arrived on the island of Mauritius around 500 years ago, they unintentionally upset the ecosystem of the island. This lead to the extinction of several species, including the dodo. The Natural History Museum explains how this happened and whether anything can be done to fix it on this website and in the video below.

      The environment

      Ecosystems show us how reliant we are on other things for survival. This is why it’s important for us to look after the environment.  At-Bristol has a quiz you can take to see the amount of natural resources you use in your everyday life.

      Climate change refers to the things that humans have done to change our climate. These changes can have a huge impact on our environment. You can find out more about climate change at ARKive , and then take a quiz to test your knowledge.

      National Museums Scotland have a fun game which shows how dinosaurs adapted to changing environments. It’s called Transformasaur and you can play it here.


      DNA makes up all living organisms – it’s what tells your cells to become muscles, skeletons or whatever else your body needs. Two scientists called Francis Crick  and James Watson developed a model called the Double Helix to describe how DNA is shaped. You can find out more about the Double Helix at the Science Museum. The Wellcome Collection also has an original sketch by Francis Crick of the Double Helix.

      DNA can also determine how you look – whether you are blonde, or have brown eyes and so on. This game from At-Bristol shows you how DNA decides those things and how many other people share similar characteristics.


      Charles Darwin was a geologist and naturalist who became famous for working out that all species of life descended over time from common ancestors. He described this as a 'Tree of Life' – a bit like a family tree, which shows how everyone in your family is related. You can see his original sketch of the Tree of Life at the Natural History Museum or take a look at an interactive one, where you can see how humans are related to bananas!

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