Paramecium Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Kyle Varon

Kyle has taught college level biology and helped with middle-school science programs.

Did you know that there are creatures so small that you can't see them with your own eyes in the muddy water of your local pond? Read on to learn about one amazing creature, called a paramecium, that lives in microscopic ecosystems.

What Is a Paramecium?

A paramecium is a type of single-celled eukaryotic organism. Each of the cells that you are made of needs food and water to survive. Just like your cells, the paramecium needs food and water; the main difference is that the paramecium is only a single cell and you are made of trillions of cells.

A eukaryote is a type of cell that has organelles, or special machines that help the cell make energy and live a more complex life. You may not realize it, but you already know many different eukaryotes. Eukaryotes that you see in your daily life include creatures like dogs, cats, birds, and even plants!

Paramecium live in water around the world and live mostly by eating other organisms, like bacteria and algae. They're round-shaped, and move around in water using 'broom-like' structures called cilia.

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As you can see in the picture, paramecium have structures you may recognize from seeing pictures of a human cell, such as a nucleus and a vacuole. The nucleus is where DNA (the information that makes you unique) is stored, while a vacuole is where food is stored (very similar to your stomach). The oral groove from the picture can be thought of as the paramecium's mouth. It is the first place food touches it. The contractile vacuole is similar to the vacuole, except it keeps the right amount of water in the cell. Humans don't have contractile vacuoles, but our bladders do a similar job.

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