Kids Guide to Photosynthesis

Life on earth couldn’t exist without plants and flowers. People and animals need oxygen to breathe. As plants grow in the ground, they supply the people and living creatures on the earth with oxygen through photosynthesis.

The process of photosynthesis gives plants, algae, and some types of bacteria the nutrients they need to grow, while at the same time providing important oxygen for life on earth.

What is Photosynthesis?

The word “photosynthesis” has two parts that help decode its meaning. “Photo” is a Greek word that means “light,” and “synthesis” is a Greek word that means “putting together.” By looking at the meanings of these two words, you can learn that photosynthesis describes a process that uses light to join things together. The light in this process is sunlight. The things joined together for this process include carbon dioxide, sunlight, and water, which then results in the food that plants need. Although plants don’t eat food in the same way as people, they need some of the same nutrients. Plants need glucose, or sugar, which turns into energy that plants use to grow and thrive.

Steps of Photosynthesis

The sun shines down on the earth, which begins the first steps of photosynthesis. As sunlight hits plants and flowers, a special process begins. This energy goes into chloroplasts, which are tiny structures inside plant cells. Chloroplasts have chlorophyll inside of them, which is responsible for making the leaves and stems of plants green. Chlorophyll is also an important ingredient for trapping sunlight and turning it into food for plants. Plants also take in carbon dioxide and water from the environment. When sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide combine inside plants, photosynthesis can begin. Plants then make glucose, which gives the plants the nutrients they need to grow. Plants also give off oxygen as a waste product, which people and animals need to survive.

Common Vocabulary

Photosynthesis involves some special words that you will probably hear when people talk about this process. Learning common vocabulary can help you understand photosynthesis. To learn vocabulary words, try using the words in sentences to describe what you know about photosynthesis. You could also use flashcards with vocabulary words written on one side and definitions written on the other side of the cards.

  • Chloroplasts are tiny organelles inside plant cells, responsible for capturing sunlight energy.
  • Stroma is liquid inside the chloroplasts that helps with energy conversion.
  • Chlorophyll absorbs sunlight and gives plants their green color.
  • The Calvin Cycle is the stage of photosynthesis that involves making glucose.
  • Xylem are a plant’s veins, responsible for carrying nutrients.
  • Roots are the parts of plants that grow beneath the surface of the soil.
  • Stems support plants and help carry nutrients to leaves.
  • Leaves contain chloroplasts, so photosynthesis happens in plant leaves.
  • Flowers are the parts of plants where seeds grow.
  • Seeds grow inside of flowers, making it possible for plants to reproduce themselves to make more plants.

Suggested Activities

Hearing descriptions and reading information about photosynthesis can help you learn about this process. It can also be helpful to conduct experiments and participate in photosynthesis activities. These activities can help you see and experience how plants work to process their food and produce oxygen for the Earth. Write down your experiments and their results as a record of your learning. Drawing pictures of experiments is another way to record what you learned.

One way to learn about photosynthesis is to compare two plants. Place one plant where it will receive full sunlight and give this plant water. Place another plant in a dark spot where it won’t get sunlight, but continue watering this plant. After a few days, observe the two plants to see if they look different. It’s likely that the plant receiving daily sunlight is continuing to look healthy. The plant that sat in a dark location may not look as strong and vibrant as it looked before. This is due to the lack of sunlight, which is a necessary ingredient for photosynthesis to take place. This plant may be suffering, because it hasn’t had enough glucose to nourish it.

Author: Lily Calyx

Flower expert, gardening enthusiast and creative mind behind our blog.

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