Cells and Chemical Reactions: Photosynthesis

Science ObjectDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the second of four Science Objects in the Cells and Chemical Reactions SciPack. It investigates the process of photosynthesis and the chemical reactions that take place in plant cells.

Photosynthesis involves unique synthesis chemical reactions in which energy from the sun is transferred into energy in the chemical bonds that are formed when smaller molecules are combined to synthesize complex molecules. For nearly every living organism on Earth, the energy required by its cells originally comes from the sun and the only way to transfer light energy into living systems is through photosynthesis. Only those organisms with chlorophyll, such as plants, can capture energy by absorbing light and using it to form strong (covalent) chemical bonds between atoms of carbon-containing (organic) molecules through photosynthesis. Plants have chlorophyll contained in chloroplasts (the site of photosynthesis) where energy rich organic compounds are synthesized for use by the plant as a source of matter and energy necessary for life. This process of photosynthesis provides a vital connection between the sun and the energy needs of nearly all living systems, and also releases oxygen to the environment.

The simple carbohydrates produced during photosynthesis can be decomposed immediately to supply matter and energy needed for metabolic processes by plants or other photosynthesizing organisms. In addition, the energy from the decomposition can be used to build other complex carbon-based molecules that help the plant grow and function (including proteins, lipids and more complex carbohydrates).

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Reviews (7)
  • on Thu Nov 01, 2018 6:22 PM

This science object is fantastic. it is a complete overview of photosynthesis and all of the possible working parts that encompass it. I love that it is thorough and also the clarity and simplicity of the information. It is great review and even has a quiz that ensures that I have retained the information that is essential. I am glad that was able to find this

Brendon Schrock  (Mogadore, OH)
Brendon Schrock (Mogadore, OH)

  • on Sun Apr 19, 2015 9:46 AM

This is a great explanation of the chemical detail of the photosynthesis process in plant cells.

Robin Willig  (Rye Brook, NY)
Robin Willig (Rye Brook, NY)

  • on Tue Sep 02, 2014 5:17 AM

I really enjoy Science Objects. In 1-3 hours, the Cells and Chemical Reactions: Photosynthesis Science Object will help me re-learn, refresh, or learn for the first time some critical science concepts I will have to know to obtain my Science Educator credentials. I appreciate that I can complete them at my own pace, and that, if used as park of a SciPack, I have access to a content expert to go to for help. The NSTA Learning Center Science Objects are really beneficial!

Naomi Beverly  (Marietta, GA)
Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA)

  • on Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:12 PM

Learning about photosynthesis has never been this interesting.

Ronaldo Relador  (Bowie, MD)
Ronaldo Relador (Bowie, MD)

  • on Sat Dec 17, 2011 1:19 PM

This is an excellent, interactive resource that enables the learner to internalize the steps involved with Photosynthesis. From clearly detailing how light energy is converted to chemical energy, and the storage of energy in the bonds of sugar, it presents information in multiple ways to actively engage individuals of various learning styles. The immediate feedback quizzes are helpful, and the visuals work synergistically with the text to help individuals develop and enduring understanding of this essential process. I am looking forward to sharing this resource with my scholars.

Lorrie Armfield  (Laurel, MD)
Lorrie Armfield (Laurel, MD)

  • on Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:36 PM

This Science Object gives a detailed explanation of how light energy is transformed by photosynthetic organisms into chemical energy and matter. Another great example of how the PD resources that NSTA has made available to teachers are concise yet comprehensive. The information is available whenever we need it to refresh our memories and spark ideas on how to pass the information on to our students!

Duane Little  (Washington, DC)
Duane Little (Washington, DC)

  • on Fri Feb 14, 2014 12:49 PM

Thank you for supplying this program at no charge! It has a lot of potential but I do have a few comments / suggestions..... 1) The fig. 5.5 video is not functional...not a big deal as it is just a seed using its starch but should be fixed. 2) The "mechanical" voice is a turn-off...if it is to me, it will be totally intimidating to my multi-cultural urban school students. They will automatically assume it is "too hard". 3) It would be nice if teachers could assign this without having to have each student sign up as it is my information you want, not theirs.

Mindy  (Highland Mills, NY)
Mindy (Highland Mills, NY)

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