Hello! My name is Margaret Gregory. I am a science writer for the USDA Forest Service. I found my way into the Forest Service through the Resource Assistant Program; before that, I taught physical science and chemistry at a public high school for three years.
Even though I taught the physical sciences, my heart lies in the biological sciences—I minored in biology in my undergrad program. Photosynthesis forms the cornerstone of biology; if plants couldn’t create energy from sunlight, our world wouldn’t exist.
This lesson plan is designed for middle school life science students, although it could easily be scaled up for a high school biology class. I chose this topic because students can often get bogged down in the particulars of photosynthesis. These resources from the Natural Inquirer and GLOBE beautifully illustrate the process and its importance.
To complete this lesson plan, students will first read and fill in graphic organizers on the “Facelook” Natural Inquirer monograph. The Natural Inquirer provides many graphic organizers to help guide student thinking while reading an article; I suggest “KWL” or “Paragraph by Paragraph.” The 14-page monograph follows Forest Service scientists as they explore how differing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide affect the amount of carbon trees can store through photosynthesis. (Time: one to two 45-minute class periods, depending on the accompanying graphic organizer chosen)
Next, students will complete the “A Beginning Look at Photosynthesis” GLOBE activity. This activity allows students to test how different types of light affect the rate of photosynthesis—very similar in design to the investigation carried out by the scientists in the monograph. (Time: two to three 45-minute class periods, plus short sessions over the next two to three weeks for students to collect data)
Teachers may assess student learning in many ways: with the “Facelook” reflection questions, through the skills checklist accompanying “A Beginning Look at Photosynthesis,” or through an assessment of their own design. Teachers may also expand upon this lesson by completing the “Factivity” included with “Facelook,” which takes approximately two 45-minute class periods. This investigation allows students to ask questions, make hypotheses, and collect data about trees in their schoolyard.
GLOBE / NGSS Alignment
Acknowledgement: This material is based upon work supported by USDA Forest Service Eastern Region (Agreement no. 20-PA-11090100-026). Any opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the USDA Forest Service.