Cell Respiration - A WISE Activity (Day 4)

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Students will be able to use interactive visualizations to explore how chemical energy is released during cell respiration..

Big Idea

When bonds are broken, energy is released.

Note to Teachers

This lesson assumes you are running the WISE activity "Photosynthesis & Cellular Respiration". For instructions on how to set up accounts and run the project please read the Note to teacher on "Photosynthesis - A WISE Activity (Day 1)".

This lesson continues the Cells 'R Us project based learning experience. The lessons in this sequence are based on the "need to know's" created by the students (with guidance) for the Cells 'R Us project.

The complete sequence I use for the Cells 'R Us project is:


10 minutes

To start the lesson, I hand out the chain note previously created by the students, and ask them to read it over, looking for ideas on what they could use to represent chloroplasts and photosynthesis in their Cells 'R Us project. I remind them that the decision they make right now is not "set in stone", but they should have some ideas. I tell the students to think about the function of the chloroplast and talk about who or what performs a similar job in an attraction (mall, amusement park, etc.). Once they have talked this over with their tables, we have a quick whip around to gather several ideas.

The ideas gathered in the whip around then make it back to the project planning sheet, where the students keep a running record of what they will use in their project.

I tell the class that now that we know how energy is captured by plant cells, it is time to discover just how that energy is released. In order to learn this, we will continue the WISE activity, so student pairs should get their computers and log on to the site.


35 minutes

Once student pairs are logged on, I tell them that I expect them to complete Topic 3: "Where Does Energy Go?" and Topic 4: "How is Energy released?".

Step 3.3: Plants and Glucose is particularly powerful in illustrating how the stored energy is used by the plant while the light is turned off (SP4 Analyzing and Interpreting Data), and encourages the students to draft scientific explanations (SP6 Constructing Explanations).


As students continue to work, I am moving around the classroom checking in on student understanding through the conversations I overhear.  I am also identifying pairs that may be lagging behind, and sit with them to solve/explain things that may be causing them to stop learning. 

An added benefit of using the WISE visualizations is that it provides students with an opportunity to develop a conceptual model of what happens during cell respiration, and how the glucose that was stored is used by the plant (SP2 Developing and Using Models). Computer models such as this one, allow students to create mental images of processes that they are not be able to observe in real life, creating a more powerful learning experience.


5 minutes

To assess student understanding up to this point, I administer the "Light and Dark probe" from Page Keeley's "Uncovering Student Ideas in Life Science". As always, students must explain their answers using the ACE (Answer-Cite-Explain) strategy.

This probe enables me to recognize whether the students have realized that plants respire continuously and that although photosynthesis and cell respiration are opposite processes in terms of chemical equations, they are not truly opposite processes in terms of when and where they occur. This is what I found out from the student responses to the light and dark probe.