Chapter 1.1 (Biology Sec 1)

Introduction to biology

Specific objectives

By the end of the topic, the learner should be able to:

  1. define biology
  2. list the common branches of biology
  3. explain the importance of the study of biology
  4. state the characteristics of living things
  5. state the main differences between plants and animals

Biology is the science that involves the study of living beings. The word 'biology' comes from the Greek words 'bios' (which means life) and 'logos' (which means knowledge). Therefore, biology means 'the knowledge of life'. The term biology was first coined by a scientist called Lamarck in 1805.


Look around you. Name the living beings that you can see. Where do they live? How do they move? How do they eat? 

Which animals can you see in the picture? Talk to your friend about the subject where such animals are studied. What is its importance?

When you look around, you can see many organisms. Some are big, and others are small. Some are visible to the naked eye, while others are not. For example, millions of bacteria exist in the air, the soil, and inside our bodies, yet we cannot see them. Other organisms, such as fish and crabs, are found in the water. The many plants and animals around you are part of the living environment.

The field of biology is one way to study living beings and the roles they play in the environment. 

Meaning of biology

  1. Go to the field and collect small animals like earthworms, ants, termites, grasshoppers, cockroaches, etcetera. Collect pieces of stone, sticks, and grass.
  2. In a container, give a small animal like an ant or a grasshopper some grass. What happens? Give grass to a stone. What happens? 
  3. Gently touch a small animal like an earthworm using a stick. What happens? Do the same to the stone. What happens? From the results of these experiments, which fits the criteria for living in biology, the stone or the small animal? Why? 
  4. Return everything to the field. Take a moment to appreciate the creatures that participated in your experiment. Relate the results of the experiment to the study of biology.

Branches of biology

Like a tree, biology is divided into various branches. Can you name some of them?

The two main branches are:

  1. Zoology – the study of animals.
  2. Botany – the study of plants.

Other common branches of biology are summarised in the table below.

Table 1.1: Some of the branches of biology

Branch of biology

Title of a scientist that specialises in this branch

Nature of study for the branch



The study of the classification of organisms



The study of the relationships between organisms and their environment



The study of microscopic organisms



The study of the structure of organisms



The study of cells



The study of chemical changes inside living organisms



The study of gene inheritance

Fig. 1.1: The branches of biology are like the branches of a tree

Activity 1.2: Planning a game for learning the branches of biology

Divide the class into two groups:

  • Group 1: write the names of the various branches of biology on manila paper, then cut them out.
  • Group 2: write the meanings of the various branches of biology on manila paper and cut them out.
What to do:
  1. Get one member from group 1 to hold up the name of one branch of biology.
  2. All members of group 2 to discuss what the branch is about.
  3. One member from group 2 holds the card with the correct meaning and comes forward to match the name with its meaning.
  4. Repeat this until you connect all the branches of biology to their meanings.

Studies how plastic pollution affects marine life biodiversity.

Studies how human bodies metabolise medicine.

Studies how malaria is inherited.

Classifies orchids in relation to other organisms.

Importance of studying biology

What role does biology play in our lives? Let us find out.

  1. What do you think would happen if...
    1. We did not understand how our bodies worked? 
    2. There were no doctors or healers? 
    3. Research on new medicines, drugs, and vaccines was not carried out? 
    4. We did not understand how all life was connected, how various organisms interacted with one another and with the non-living environment? 
  2. List some professions that require knowledge of biology. Use the chart provided by your teacher to guide you. 

The following are some of the reasons why the study of biology is important in our society today:

  1. Biology helps us to understand our bodies. We will know about how our body works, and how it is affected by what we eat, the air we breathe, and the environment where we live. 
  2. The study of biology helps us in treating and preventing diseases. Here, research is done to understand the medicinal properties of plants, creatures, minerals, and other parts of the environment, as well as to invent new drugs and better vaccines. This can prevent, cure, and even eliminate diseases.
  3. By studying how our body works, nutritionists are able to come up with better diets for our various needs.
  4. Biology helps us to understand the science of exercise. The knowledge of anatomy enables athletes to understand how the body functions. This helps athletes create methods of training that enable them to become champions.
  5. The study of biology is just one of the ways we can understand our environment. Through biology and other teachings, we are able to appreciate the wide range of organisms around us, and see that we are connected and affect one another.
  6. As a subject, biology inspires farming practices that help ensure food security. For example, through biotechnology, we are able to develop high-yielding, disease and drought-resistant crops and animals. However, the study of biology also shows us how an ecological community works together to create a stable food web. We can determine when biotechnology is necessary, and when other creative farming solutions are more appropriate, such as better integrating the farm into the already hard-working ecosystem.
  7. Some careers linked to biology include medicine, pharmacy, and veterinary, among others. With this knowledge and training, we are able to contribute to the good health of our communities.
  8. Biology enhances the acquisition of scientific skillsets, such as observation, data collection, and analysis. Biology can also enhance other ways of knowing, such as the ways we perceive and feel about our environment.
  9. Biology can foster international cooperation and kinship through research aimed at global issues, such as developing vaccines or minimising environmental pollution.

We are all equal!

Studying biology helps us appreciate and understand the differences that exist between us. The diversity that we have benefits all of us rather than divides us!

My environment, my life!

We should always strive to conserve the environment in whatever we do. We should avoid destroying the environment, killing plants, and driving animals to extinction!

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