Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Using Models to Understand Photosynthesis

chloroplast modelIn this analysis and discussion activity, students develop their understanding of photosynthesis by answering questions about three different models of photosynthesis.

These models are a chemical equation, a flowchart that shows changes in energy and matter, and a diagram that shows the basic processes in a chloroplast.

Students learn about the role of scientific models by evaluating the advantages of each of these models for understanding the process of photosynthesis. 

The Student Handout is available in the first two attached files and as a Google doc designed for use in distance learning and online instruction. (For additional instructions, see, especially item 7.) The Teacher Notes, available in the last two attached files, provide instructional suggestions and background information and explain how this activity is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.

photosynthesismodelSHO.docx1.05 MB
photosynthesismodelSHO.pdf313.38 KB
photosynthesismodelTN.docx1.62 MB
photosynthesismodelTN.pdf506.14 KB


Maureen McDiarmid's picture

Great JOB!

Enjoying your resources and combining with others for my photosynthesis lesson and cellular respiration NGSS model based learning experiences.

iwaldron's picture

September 2017 revision

The Student Handout has been revised to better facilitate student understanding of photosynthesis through increased probing of student understanding and improved logical flow and clarity. 


iwaldron's picture

2017 revision

This revision has improved the focus on basic understanding of photosynthesis and two NGSS Crosscutting Concepts.

iwaldron's picture

2016 revision

The revisions for this activity improve the clarity of questions and accuracy of descriptions of chemical energy and energy metabolism. To keep this activity focused on photosynthesis, I have moved the final section of the previous version of this activity to “Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration – Understanding the Basics of Bioenergetics and Biosynthesis” (/exchange/bioactivities/photocellrespir).

iwaldron's picture

November 2014 revision

This revision of the Student Handout has some additions and reorganization to enhance student understanding of photosynthesis. The expanded Teacher Notes provide additional scientific background and instructional suggestions.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.