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In this unit, students will need to know that photosynthesis takes place in the chloroplasts of green plants where energy from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide are combined to produce glucose and oxygen. Students need to be able to write a word equation for the above process. From here, students will be taught to link this process to respiration, a metabolic reaction, in living organisms which involve using the oxygen produced by green plants to produce energy in the mitochondria. Students will need to label the internal structures of a leaf, know that the glucose made will be changed to starch and stored in the leaves and lastly to perform starch tests on leaves. In the respiration unit, students will need to be able to differentiate between anaerobic and aerobic respiration. In aerobic respiration, students will be taught how to explain the process of gas exchange between the alveoli and blood capillaries, label the structures of the respiratory system and the effects of smoking on the lungs.

Learning Targets


  • Define respiration as the chemical reactions that break down nutrient molecules in living cells to release energy
  • State the uses of energy in the body of humans: muscle contraction, protein synthesis, cell division, active transport, growth, the passage of nerve impulses and the maintenance of a constant body temperature

Aerobic respiration


Discuss what it means to be a Global Citizen in terms of our inter-dependency with other living organisms.

  • Define aerobic respiration as the release of a relatively large amount of energy in cells by the breakdown of food substances in the presence of oxygen
  • State the word equation for aerobic respiration
  • State the equation for aerobic respiration using symbols (C6H12O6 + 6O2 => 6CO2 + 6H2O)

Anaerobic respiration

  • Define anaerobic respiration as the release of a relatively small amount of energy by the breakdown of food substances in the absence of oxygen
  • State the word equation for anaerobic respiration in muscles during hard exercise (glucose ? lactic acid) and the microorganism yeast (glucose ? alcohol + carbon dioxide)
  • Describe the role of anaerobic respiration in yeast during brewing and bread-making
  • Compare aerobic respiration and anaerobic respiration in terms of relative amounts of energy released
  • State the balanced equation for anaerobic respiration in muscles (C6H12O6 ? 2C3H6O3) and the microorganism yeast (C6H12O6 ? 2C2H5OH + 2CO2), using symbols
  • Describe the effect of lactic acid in muscles during exercise (include oxygen debt in outline only)

Gas exchange

  • List the features of gas exchange surfaces in animals
  • Identify on diagrams and name the larynx, trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, alveoli and associated capillaries
  • State the differences in composition between inspired and expired air
  • Use lime water as a test for carbon dioxide to investigate the differences in composition between inspired and expired air
  • Investigate and describe the effects of physical activity on rate and depth of breathing
  • Describe the role of the ribs, the internal and external intercostal muscles and the diaphragm in producing volume and pressure changes leading to the ventilation of the lungs
  • Explain the role of mucus and cilia in protecting the gas exchange system from pathogens and particles
  • Explain the link between physical activity and rate and depth of breathing in terms of changes in the rate at which tissues respire and therefore of carbon dioxide concentration and pH in tissues and in the blood

Plant nutrition


  • Define photosynthesis as the fundamental process by which plants manufacture carbohydrates from raw materials using energy from light
  • State the word equation for the production of simple sugars and oxygen
  • Investigate the necessity for chlorophyll, light and carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, using appropriate controls
  • Describe the intake of carbon dioxide and water by plants
  • Explain that chlorophyll traps light energy and converts it into chemical energy for the formation of carbohydrates and their subsequent storage
  • State the balanced equation for photosynthesis in symbols
  • Investigate and state the effect of varying light intensity, carbon dioxide concentration and temperature on the rate of photosynthesis (e.g. in submerged aquatic plants)
  • Define the term limiting factor as something present in the environment in such short supply that it restricts life processes
  • Explain the concept of limiting factors in photosynthesis
  • Explain the use of carbon dioxide enrichment, optimum light and optimum temperatures in glasshouse systems

Presentation media

Sheep lungs dissection

Labs and activities

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