Today we studied photosynthesis, the process plants use to capture the energy from sunlight) and use it to convert water and carbon dioxide to sugar and oxygen

Students used beads to represent the molecules of water and carbon dioxide that make up the ingredients of photosynthesis. They then used those ingredients to build a big glucose molecule, which represents the sugar that the plant makes. A by-product of photosynthesis besides glucose is oxygen gas. Students discovered that they had many oxygen molecules left over once they had created the glucose molecule.  This is the plant’s food, and is important to us, because it when we eat plants (or animals that have eater plants), the product of photosynthesis becomes the food for animals as well.

It is beneficial for all animals (humans included) that plants generate oxygen because it is the gas that we inhale and need to survive.   The carbon dioxide gas that animals exhale during respiration is beneficial to plants because they need it to perform photosynthesis. Life on Earth is balanced when we have enough plants and animals present!

La Estructura de las Plantas

En la clase de hoy aprendimos sobre las plantas. En este proceso las plantas utilizan energía lumínica (luz solar) para convertir agua y dióxido de carbono en azúcar y oxígeno.

Utilizando mostacillas como un modelo de las moléculas de agua y dióxido de carbono, los estudiantes construyeron una molécula de glucosa, que representa el azúcar que las plantas generan a través del proceso de fotosíntesis. Además del azúcar, durante la fotosíntesis también se genera un segundo “producto”, el oxígeno. Los estudiantes se dieron cuenta que “sobraron” muchas moléculas de oxígeno después de crear la molécula de glucosa. Es beneficioso que las plantas generen oxígeno para todos los animales (incluyendo a los humanos), pues el oxígeno es el gas que inhalamos y necesitamos para sobrevivir. Y a su vez, es beneficioso para las plantas que nosotros exhalamos dióxido de carbono durante la respiración, pues ellas lo necesitan para hacer fotosíntesis. Existe un equilibrio en la Tierra cuando existe el número adecuado de plantas y animales.


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Dr. Catherine Sukow

Dr. Sukow's interest in science education began when she was a teenager, with an extended visit to San Francisco's Exploratorium. In college, she had summer jobs in a similar, smaller, museum. She focused her Master's research at NCSU on the structure of metal silicides on silicon, and her Ph. D. work at Brandeis on the structure of crossbridged actin bundles. While volunteering in her childrens' schools, she was reminded how much fun it is to teach science, and is happy to be teaching now with Science from Scientists. In her spare time, she also enjoys yoga, choral and solo singing, and attempting a variety of international cuisines.

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