In college or AP biology, students have to learn the nitty gritty of glycolysis, krebs cycle, and electron transport chain. The biochemistry can make your eyes glaze over. It has always been a struggle for me to figure out what exactly to cover for the average high school student. What is that “happy medium” I can cover that will give them more than the basic formula, but not so much they get overwhelmed?
I’ve decided that that happy medium looks like this:
- Students need to memorize the overall formula for cellular respiration. They should recognize the products for photosynthesis are the reactants for cellular respiration and vice versa.
- Students should understand the inputs and outputs of glycolysis, the krebs cycle, and electron transport chain, but don’t need to understand all the biochemical reactions.
- Students should be able to apply cellular respiration concepts to real world situations. How is cellular respiration utilized in cooking? Why do Olympic athletes train at high altitudes? What impact does temperature have on respiration and how does this apply to cold blooded organisms? (Notice now none of these questions involve students explaining what Acetyl-CoA is or how electron transport works?)
Here is a round-up of what I consider “happy-medium” respiration lessons.
Call up a volunteer to blow through a straw into the beaker. Time how long it takes to change from blue to green. Then repeat the experiment, but before allowing them to blow into the straw, have the student do some jumping jacks, pushups, or something to get their heart going. Ask the class- do you think it will take more time or less time for the color to change from blue to green? Why?
4. Similarly, here is a “sourdough starter” respiration activity. This is a great tie-in with food science!
5. Speaking of food science, this lab has students make root beer while learning about cellular respiration.
10. Here is another virtual lab activity you might want to check out that uses yeast.
Looking for photosynthesis resources? Head over to this blog post!