What level are you teaching photosynthesis?
I teach photosynthesis at three very different levels:
- 9th grade inclusion ecology. For these guys, photosynthesis is taught very broadly as part of the carbon cycle. They need to know that plants take in CO2, water, and sunlight to make food, and that O2 is produced. I’ll be emphasizing the concept of “ecological productivity,” and we’ll talk about different environmental influences on productivity.
- 10th grade on-level biology. These students will learn the structure of chloroplasts and will learn about how different pigments absorb/reflect different wavelengths. They will learn that photosynthesis has essentially two parts: the light reactions and the Calvin cycle. They will learn that water is split for its electrons during the light reactions and that those electrons get shuttled to the Calvin cycle to be used in the formation of sugars. They will need to know that CO2 is the source of the carbon in the sugars produced by photosynthesis, and that oxygen is a waste product. Finally, they will learn about stomata and about the need for plants to balance water loss and CO2 uptake.
- 9th grade gifted biology. These guys will get much more of the biochemical detail. In addition to everything the on-level biology learns, these students will also learn more detail about the electron transport chain, the function of ATP synthase in the thylakoid membrane, and more detail about overall plant structure. We’ll cover how exactly stomata open and close, and I’ll talk a bit about photorespiration.