Leg Overview:

This leg focuses on how plants get energy through photosynthesis and how animals, people and machines can get energy by consuming plants. It also reviews types of plants.

Key Themes and Guiding Questions:

  • Themes:
    • Plant Energy
    • Photosynthesis
  • Guiding questions:
    • What is the difference between annual and perennial plants?
    • How do plants produce their energy?

Supplemental Activities:

  • Trace the energy - Discuss where energy for each source comes from and follow the energy back to the sun. Do this with Downhill Racers, Electric Cars and Solar Cars to see that all get their energy from the sun through photosynthesis.
  • Farming Game - Have students play the video game, Fields of Fuel. Examine the pros and cons of potential biofuel crops. (High School) - curriculum link
  • Compare corn and switchgrass - Hold up a bag of each plant and ask students what's different about the two types of plants
  • Starch test - Discuss converting starch to sugar for the yeast to turn into ethanol and use amylase and an iodine test to see if starch is still present after conversion
  • Photovoltaic to electrolysis - Use a solar cell to split water then burn it to show the energy it created as an analog/metaphor for photosynthesis.

Standards Connections:

  • 5-PS3 - Energy
  • 5-LS2 - Cycles of matter and energy transfer in ecosystems
  • 5-ESS3 - Earth and human activity
  • 3-5-ETS1 - Engineering design
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.3 - Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.4 - Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.1 - Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.9 - Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

Additional Resources:

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