Photosynthesis – how plants make food!

Today we studied plants, specifically how plants get their energy from a process called photosynthesis—they use light energy (sunlight) to convert water and carbon dioxide to sugar and oxygen.

Students used beads to represent the different 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 second product of photosynthesis besides glucose is oxygen. Students discovered that they had many oxygen molecules left over once they had created the glucose molecule.

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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Lauren Koppel

Lauren earned a Bachelor’s degree with a double major of Biology and Psychology from Clark University, and a Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. During her undergraduate years, she worked in a evolutionary neurobiology lab that studied the neural development of annelids (marine worms), with a focus on the sox family of genes. Lauren loves learning about how the world works (including everything from biology to chemistry to engineering), and is passionate about sharing that knowledge and enthusiasm with others. In the past, she has interned at the Museum of Science, where she educated learners of all ages through hands-on activities, games, and experiments. Other science education organizations with which Lauren has worked include The People’s Science, EurekaFest, and Eureka! of Girls Inc. of Worcester. Currently she lives in Boston, where devotes her free time to playing Quidditch, reading sci-fi novels, playing her ukulele, and enjoying all the culinary delights the city has to offer.

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