Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Desirae. Desirae Wonders, “what is a semipermeable membrane” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Desirae!

You may have learned in school that every living thing is made up of cells. House plants, giraffes, nudibranchs, even human beings—we’re all alive thanks to these tiny building blocks of life. 

They may be small, but cells are made up of even tinier structures. Today, we’ll learn about a very important part of the cell. It’s the semipermeable membrane!

What is a semipermeable membrane? It’s the outer layer that protects the cell. “Semipermeable” means that it lets some molecules enter or exit the cell and blocks others. 

Have you ever been to a concert or big sports event? If so, someone probably checked your ticket before you were able to enter. If you show up without a ticket, they won’t let you in. The membrane does a similar job. It controls what comes into the cell. It can also limit how much of a substance enters.

How does the semipermeable membrane carry out this task? Its structure has a lot to do with it. The membrane is very complex. Its outer layer lets small molecules, like oxygen, pass freely. 

What about larger molecules? They rely on transport proteins. The cell’s genetic code decides what can and cannot pass through the membrane. Transport proteins move the allowed molecules across the membrane and into the cell.

When water molecules enter a cell, it’s called osmosis. This process plays an important part in helping keep your cells healthy. Osmosis and the cell membrane help living things maintain homeostasis. This is a state of equilibrium at which life processes can be carried out. 

In homeostasis, cells can do their important jobs, like replicating DNA. When a human body is out of homeostasis, it gives off signs. This may include a high temperature or blood sugar.

The human body has about 37.2 trillion cells. Every one of them has its own semipermeable membrane. Just imagine! The process of osmosis is happening in each of your cells all the time.

This is just one of many processes happening in your body every day. Your cells grow, duplicate, and carry out their jobs, all without you realizing it! Life really does depend on these tiny, hard-working structures.

Standards: NGSS.LS1.A, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.SL.1

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