Read on for some mind-blowing facts about photosynthesis and be sure to take our very own quiz at the end, so you can test your knowledge!
What is photosynthesis?
Ready to learn all about how water molecules, light energy (energy from the sun), and chemical energy come together to cause some chemical reactions?
Right, we’ll keep it simple! Basically photosynthesis is something that a plant does to grow and keep alive. If you think about it, you don’t really see plants eating food like humans and animals, do you?
That would just be weird. Instead, plants stay in one place in the ground and make their own food! Wow, they’re pretty clever.
How do plants make their own food?
We’ve discovered that our plant friends are pretty clever, so how do they make their food to keep growing healthy and strong? Well, they use water, carbon dioxide and light to do this.
See how this process works in the diagram below.
Carbon dioxide is a type of chemical and it’s found in the air. Plants breathe it in nice and deep and then they breathe out oxygen.
But plants are different to us, as we need to breathe in oxygen to stay alive and we breathe carbon dioxide out. Wow, that’s interesting, we’re like complete opposites.
Believe it or not, but plants are a bit smarter than us. This is because there’s enough carbon dioxide around for them to live on without needing the carbon dioxide that we make.
However, there wouldn’t be enough oxygen in the world for humans to live on, if plants didn’t make it for us!
Who would have known that we rely on plants so much?
Get planting all you can!
How does photosynthesis work?
Plants do breathe, like us, but it’s through tiny little holes in their leaves. You can’t see them if you just look at them, you can only spot them if you looked through a microscope.
If you saw these little holes through a microscope you’d be amazed!
So how do they get water? Well if you think about the plants you have at home, you always water them don’t you, to keep them alive. Well, plants drink all that water that comes from the sky and your watering can, through their roots.
Now that they’ve got water, they then use sunlight from the air, and everything combined together creates their food, which is called sugars.
Pretty neat, huh? Check out the picture which shows this process below.
In order to make all this happen, plants have something in their leaves called chlorophyll which they need to make all this fancy stuff happen.
This process is called photosynthesis, and oxygen is made at the end of the process.
But the plant doesn’t need all that oxygen, so off it goes into the air and lucky for us, we can breathe it and stay alive!
Photosynthesis = ‘photo’ + ‘synthesis
Now here’s a quick explanation of photosynthesis for you. If you think about the word photosynthesis and you make two words out of it, you get ‘photo’, which means light, and ‘synthesis’ which means ‘putting together’.
So in simple terms, plants use light to put things together. Ah, so that’s where the word comes from!
It’s a very clever process don’t you think? What that means for us, is that we really need to be careful about protecting all plants and growing plants on Earth, so that we’ll always have enough oxygen to breathe.
We couldn’t live if we didn’t get oxygen from plants. So give a big cheer for plants big and small.
There was a time a very, very long time ago when there wasn’t much oxygen around so animals and humans couldn’t exist. Well what made it all happen? The plants of course!
It was only because of photosynthesis that more and more oxygen was made which meant that animals and humans could develop.
Think about it this way, without photosynthesis we wouldn’t even be around and indeed there would be no living things on planet Earth!
So, every chance you get, try to plant a tree, and even suggest a tree planting day at your school if they don’t already do it.
Now that you know what photosynthesis is, hopefully you understand the importance of looking after our precious and mighty clever plants!
Test your knowledge by taking our quiz – all answers can be found by coming back to this page!