Stuff You Missed in Botany: Photosynthesis

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis: a biochemical reaction using a carbon molecule to produce an organic molecule, using sunlight as a catalyst

This is what you missed in Botany (or have forgotten from 7th grade science) explained three ways.

It’s a great idea to try to understand photosynthesis if you are a gardener. This can help you understand why plants react the way they do to our particular lighting conditions. This can also help us figure out where we want to plant things in order for them to be the most “photo” happy, thus giving us our desired result, a thriving plant.

Okay, so what is photosynthesis?

My four kids have all been home schooled for all of their academic careers. My two oldest kids are now in college. I have a son in 8th grade and a son in 1st grade. All four have taken, or in Patrick’s case, will take, Botany.

Ryan and Meghan were a breeze to teach. Ryan is a visual-spatial learner so I wrote everything out with charts and diagrams. Meghan is an audio learner so I spoke the lessons as well setting things to music whenever possible.

I’m saying all this to tell you that I learned I had to explain things different ways in order to get the same material across to four different people learning things four different ways. That’s how I’ll explain photosynthesis now. Three ways.

Photosynthesis: Take One

Broken down into it’s Greek rooted parts is:

photo- light


thesis-to put

So, if we look at the definition of photosynthesis again with this in mind, we see a biochemical reaction using a carbon molecule to produce an organic molecule, using sunlight as a catalyst means a carbon molecule is put together with an organic molecule and what causes the reaction is light.

Light (energy) + Oxygen/water =sugar (energy)

Thus the light energy is changed into plant energy due to a bio(life)chemical reaction.

Photosynthesis: Take Two

For the visuals out there…

And finally, for the Patrick’s out there that must DO something in order to LEARN something:

Here is an experiment you can do with (or without) your kids.






These are the materials needed to see how important sunlight is to leaves:
materials leaf-Plant with broad leaves (may be inside or outside)

-Black construction paper

-Transparent material (such as a plastic bag)




Cut a piece of black construction paper large enough to cover a broad leaf. HAVE AN ADULT HELP YOU!leaf before

Now wrap the construction paper around the leaf and use the tape to secure it.

leaf during

Wait at least a week before removing the construction paper from the leaf. When the experiment is finished compare your leaf to the other leaves on the plant. You should be able to see a distinct difference between the leaves.
leaf after

The leaf that had been under the cover of the construction paper should have begun to lose its green color and wilt. This is because the leaf is unable to continue to make food with out the help of sunlight. Below are another set of pictures using a very different plant then the one above. Plants grown without any light at all will be pale and spindly; botanists call these plants etiolated. You have probably seen similar etiolated plants when onions or potatoes sprout in your pantry or refrigerator.

leaf 2 before

leaf 2 during

leaf 2 after

Oh well, have a paisley day anyway = )~KeriAnne
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