How to Decode the Mystery of Photosynthesis

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One scientific process is key to producing all fossil fuels, plants, forests, and both our crop and animal food sources here on Planet Earth. Yet ironically, a national study noted in NSTA’s Science Scope, reveals that although middle school students know that sunlight is somehow involved in plant growth, they fail to really understand the process that affects almost all life — photosynthesis. Plus, many teachers agree that student understanding of photosynthesis and the basic science behind plant growth remains mostly a mystery to their students.

It makes you wonder, what’s so hard about learning how plants use carbon dioxide, water, nutrients and sunlight to grow? Seems simple enough, right?  Though it should be, the gap in learning appears to be tied to “visually” understanding a process that can’t actually be seen in action. Toss in the added challenge of understanding how soil nutrients and nitrogen also play roles, and the content in textbooks can become overwhelming in a hurry. So what’s the solution?

Today, more and more educators are successfully teaching science concepts that students can’t visually see by using videos with animations. These educational videos often blend real-world connections with detailed animations that help decode chemical and physical processes—such as photosynthesis or nitrogen fixation in plants.

You can see examples online from our Emmy™ Award-winning student education series, Into the Outdoors, that help decode photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation, and a variety of science topics. And to help complete the teaching-learning-comprehending loop on many science subjects, we also offer free downloadable lesson guides and resource links.

For a closer look at photosynthesis and other biochemical conversions, your students should watch our Chemistry of Life video. To decode how certain plants such as legumes convert atmospheric nitrogen into soil nutrients, see the Discovery of Nitrogen Fixation.

With scores of science topics to explore and more coming online every month, a growing number of teachers are using IntotheOutdoors.org videos and classroom teaching materials to help decode science subjects.

So what topics do your students struggle with that would benefit from an engaging video? Drop us a line!