In this photosynthesis activity, students will work as a class to simulate the process of being the different molecules and enzymes in the process of photosynthesis. Each person will be assigned a role in the process and together will see how each piece of the process works together to achieve the end goal of creating glucose. The entire class will be involved as you conduct a relay simulation of this biochemical reaction.
After, students will reflect on the experience by answering questions. This is SUCH A FUN WAY to help your students visualize the process of photosynthesis and understand how the light-dependent and light-independent reactions work together in order to convert light energy into chemical energy stored as glucose.
What is included?
- 8 pages of teacher implementation notes, including suggestions for accommodating higher and lower level students and pictures for how to set up the relay activity in your classroom (PDF)
- 1 page student handout (PDF)
- 1 page answer key (PDF)
What other materials will I need for my students to do this activity?
The list below includes everything you will need to do this activity with two groups of students at the same time in your classroom. If you have a smaller class (less than 15) you can easily do this with half the materials listed below. ALL MATERIALS CAN BE REUSED YEAR AFTER YEAR, so you only need to buy these ONE TIME!!
- Small magnets (or tape) for the included templates
- Two 2L bottles
- Two clear plastic cups
- ~10 small plastic bathroom drinking cups
- Two 5-gallon buckets full of "sunshine" (aka, water with yellow food coloring)
What prior knowledge will students need to do this activity?
- I typically do this after lecturing on photosynthesis with my students. You can see how in depth I go with my CP (College Prep, or on grade level) students in my YouTube lecture video here.
- This activity does NOT get into photosystems or a ton of detail into the process of photosynthesis, but instead focuses on allowing the students to visualize the overall inputs and outputs of the light-dependent and light-independent reactions.
- I have also used it as an inquiry-based activity to introduce photosynthesis so that students have a point of reference while taking notes on the biochemical reaction.
However, if you choose to do this option, make sure to provide LOTS of guidance and explanation throughout the simulation so students can grasp what is going on.
Why should I use this product in my classroom?
This activity can get a little wild, but it is SO worth it. It is consistently one of my students' most memorable learning experiences from their time in my classroom, and is an incredibly effective visual for students struggling to understand the process of photosynthesis.
What if I want more?
This product is part of my Energy Flow Unit bundle. Be sure to check it out by clicking HERE!
What if I have a question?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to answer any questions you have!
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