Photosynthesis 101 with Summer Beach

Photosynthesis 101 by Summer Beach | Sassafras ScienceDeviled ham on sourdough bread with roasted red peppers! I am so excited to be here today sharing with you all about the amazing process of photosynthesis!!

In case you don’t already know, I’m Summer Beach – one of the twins’ favorite local experts and dear friend of the dreamy Cecil Sassafras!

Ulysses, my lab assistant, and I are eagerly awaiting the release of The Sassafras Science Adventures Volume 3: Botany! So when Tracey asked us to share what I taught the twins about photosynthesis to help get the word out, well I practically went through the roof of the lab jumping at the chance!

I can’t give away too much about what happens in our portion of their botany leg, but I promise you won’t be disappointed! There’s mystery, adventure, and science galore…it’s better than a croquet monsieur! That’s French for a fancy ham and cheese sandwich!

I know, I know, Ulysses – if I share much more, I’ll give away the secret behind our botany chapters. So, let’s get to the real reason you are reading this post – photosynthesis!

The Meat of Photosynthesis

First things first, let’s talk about the heart of the photosynthesis sandwich we are building – the process itself!

Here’s a definition:

Photosynthesis is the process by which a plant uses light to make food.

Let’s dig a bit deeper… {WARNING! SPOILER ALERT! – I’m going to share with you all exactly what I shared with the twins, despite the warnings of my ground squirrel colleague!}

Photosynthesis literally means “putting together with light”.  It is the process a plant goes through to get the food and energy it needs from the sun.

First, the plant absorbs water from the soil through its roots and carbon dioxide from the air through holes in the stems and leaves.  Then light, which is also absorbed through the leaves, is used to convert the water and carbon dioxide into glucose and oxygen. Finally, the plant releases the oxygen as a waste product and uses the glucose as food.

Photosynthesis takes place in the chloroplasts, which are found in the cells of the plant.  These chloroplasts contain stacks of membranes coated with chlorophyll that act as solar panels to capture energy from the sun’s light. They are found mainly in the leaves, which are flat so they can absorb more energy from the sun, but some chloroplasts can be found in the stem as well.

So now that you understand what photosynthesis is, let add some cheese and bread to make this a real sandwich!

The Cheese of Photosynthesis

Here are a few videos and activities Ulysses and I found to accompany the meat of this botanical process:

  • Button photosynthesis – This is a great activity using buttons to act out the chemical process of photosynthesis. Of course, you could use beads, gumdrops, or chocolate candies instead!
  • Leaf Disk Test – This experiment is a fun way to show your students how photosynthesis produces oxygen.
  • Photosynthesis video – This is a cartoon-style, interactive explanation of photosynthesis. Very well done!
  • Photosynthesis on the cellular level – This video is very sciency, meaning it uses the big chemical names, so it is more for the older crowd.

The Bread of Photosynthesis

Finally, here are some books you can use to finish off the photosynthesis sandwich we have been making:

Of course, don’t miss volume 3 when it comes out! I am sharing about more than just photosynthesis in the botany leg of the twins’ zip line journey, and you don’t want to miss it!

I promise it won’t freeze you out! Ok, ok, Ulysses – I promise I will stop dropping hints :-)!

Thanks for joining us today folks!

by Summer Beach

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