This multipart animation series explores the process of photosynthesis and the structures that carry it out.
Photosynthesis converts light energy from the sun into chemical energy stored in organic molecules, which are used to build the cells of many producers and ultimately fuel ecosystems. After providing an overview of photosynthesis, these animations zoom inside the cells of a leaf and into a chloroplast to see where and how the reactions of photosynthesis happen. The animations detail both the light reactions and the Calvin cycle, focusing on the flow of energy and the cycling of matter.
This animation series contains seven parts, which can be watched individually or in sequence. The first three parts are appropriate for middle school through college-level students. The remaining parts are appropriate for high school through college-level students; Parts 5 and 6 are recommended for more advanced students. Depending on students’ background, it may be helpful to pause the animations at various points to discuss different steps or structures.
The accompanying “Student Worksheet” incorporates concepts and information from the animations. The animations are also available in a YouTube playlist or as a full-length YouTube video.
Student Learning Targets
- Summarize the overall purpose of photosynthesis, as well as its inputs and outputs.
- Describe the structures used to perform photosynthesis in plants.
- Describe the main components of the light reactions and Calvin cycle, and how they contribute to photosynthesis.
ATP, Calvin cycle, chlorophyll, chloroplast, electron transport chain, G3P, light reactions, NADPH, photosystem, rubisco
The resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. No rights are granted to use HHMI’s or BioInteractive’s names or logos independent from this Resource or in any derivative works.
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
LS1.A, LS1.C; HS-LS1-5, HS-LS2-5; SEP2; SEP6
AP Biology (2019)
ENE-1.I, ENE-1.J, ENE-1.K, ENE-1.O, ENE-2.K, ENE-2.L, SYI-1.D, SYI-1.F; SP1, SP2
IB Biology (2016)
2.9, 4.2, 8.3
AP Environmental Science (2020)
Learning Objectives & Practices: ERT-1.D
IB Environmental Systems and Societies (2017)
Common Core (2010)
Vision and Change (2009)
CC2, CC4; DP1, DP3