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

Photosynthesis & Cellular Respiration – Understanding the Basics of Bioenergetics and Biosynthesis

Photosynthesis and cellular respiration cycle with the hydrolysis of ATP

In this minds-on activity, students analyze how photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and the hydrolysis of ATP provide energy for biological processes in plant cells.

Students learn that the glucose produced by photosynthesis are used for cellular respiration and for the synthesis of other organic molecules.

The final section challenges students to use their understanding of photosynthesis and cellular respiration to explain observed changes in biomass for plants growing in the light vs. dark.

The Teacher Notes suggest three possible additions to this learning activity. (NGSS)

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.

photosynthesis cellular respiration SHO.docx1.35 MB
photosynthesis cellular respiration SHO.pdf408.63 KB
photosynthesis cellular respiration TN.docx1.42 MB
photosynthesis cellular respiration TN.pdf760.97 KB


iwaldron's picture

2021 revision

I have streamlined and clarified the Student Handout. I have reorganized the Teacher Notes and added some relevant information.


L Nesbitt's picture

2018 Revision Question 15

I am trying to find the results for question 15 of the 2018 revision so I can share/show my students. Is it just that time of year where I'm missing the information in the teacher notes? Thanks!

iwaldron's picture

Information for question 15

The information you need is shown on the bottom of page 6 of the Teacher Notes. For additional information you may  want to write to request a key.


L Nesbitt's picture

Thanks! I did miss that

Thanks! I did miss that completely when looking over the teacher notes.

iwaldron's picture

2018 revision

The 2018 revision of the Student Handout has clarified the concepts and questions.

Link stanly's picture


Does anyone have a link to a teachers key so I can grade?

iwaldron's picture


Please see the Teacher Notes for much useful information, including instructions about how to get a key. No keys for any of these activities are available online, so students will think about the answers to the questions instead of copying the answers. 

Ingrid Waldron

iwaldron's picture

October 2016 Revision

The Student Handout has been revised to improve student understanding and learning. The revisions of the Teacher Notes include the addition of introductory and follow-up storyboards; I recommend that you use the storyboards to enhance student understanding and retention of important concepts.

iwaldron's picture

2016 revision

This activity has been entirely revised to help students develop a sophisticated understanding of the basics processes of photosynthesis and cellular respiration. New sections develop student understanding that the (1) products of photosynthesis are used not only for cellular respiration, but also to synthesize plant molecules and (2) photosynthesis can increase plant biomass and cellular respiration can decrease plant biomass, so changes in a plant’s biomass depends on the balance between photosynthesis and cellular respiration. An answer key is now available for this activity.

Serendip Visitor's picture

photo and cell resp

Answer key?

iwaldron's picture

Answer key

We do not have a key for this activity, but I believe that the information in "Cellular Respiration and Photosynthesis – Important Concepts, Common Misconceptions and Learning Activities (/exchange/bioactivities/cellrespiration) should make it relatively easy to prepare a key. In addition, you may want to consult a good introductory textbook, since the information needed is generally covered in introductory biology textbooks. If you have any additional specific questions, please let me know and I will be happy to answer your questions.

Donte Murphy's picture

AP Biology

Great Website, with Great information for my AP Biology Class..

Ap Bio at Union High School, Rose Hill NC

meagon morris's picture


Teacher at lancaster isd

Serendip Visitor's picture

puzzle pieces

Where do I download the puzzle pieces?

iwaldron's picture

students make the puzzle pieces

Questions 1, 2, and 4 describe how the students make the puzzle pieces. Then the students use the puzzle pieces to answer subsequent questions.


Abby Stanley's picture

biology and chemistry

Looking for resources for my biology class as I have limited resources.

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.
2 + 7 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.