A close look at KS3 Photosynthesis

Teaching photosynthesis at KS3 with Developing Experts: what to expect from our sequence of lessons

Engaging KS3 students in issues concerning biodiversity, growth and their importance to life on Earth can be a trickier task than you think. This is why our KS3 units illustrate not just the substantive and disciplinary knowledge that is essential to learn at this stage, but also an exploration of how this knowledge impacts real lives, careers and wider societal goals. With an embedded emphasis on nature, vitality and life on Earth, photosynthesis is the perfect unit to illustrate why Developing Experts structure their lessons in this way. 

The unit begins by immersing students in the intricate world of photosynthesis, the fundamental process that sustains life on our planet. Through seven lessons, your students will not only delve into the photosynthesis reaction but also explore how plants harness glucose and regulate atmospheric gas levels. The unit then shifts its focus to the structural aspects of leaves, offering a full illustration of their role in the process. The final lesson delves into the essential topic of how plants acquire minerals, nutrients and water and the unit concludes with a revision lesson.

What sets this unit apart is its integration of real-world applications and STEM career insights. Sponsored by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), each lesson features career opportunities and expert knowledge from industry professionals. Students get a glimpse into the practical aspects of biology through insights from experts like Louis Langenberg (Community Outreach Advisor), Jonathan Newell (Hilltop Live Public Engagement Officer), and Dr. Lauriane Chalmin (Wellbeing Research Fellow), among others.

Lesson Highlights and Curriculum Structure 

Fully mapped against the KS3 National Curriculum, the unit explores both the reactants and products of photosynthesis, including a word summary. It also covers the dependence of almost all life on Earth on the ability of photosynthetic organisms, such as plants and algae, to use sunlight in photosynthesis to build organic molecules that are an essential energy store and to maintain levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The adaptations of leaves for photosynthesis are also fully covered. Each lesson builds on prior knowledge and learning, ensuring a coherent and progressive structure to the unit. It contains an end of unit revision questions and test, a knowledge organiser, and a key words handout to help students grasp new vocabulary. 

1. Describe the photosynthesis reaction: In lesson 1, students build on prior learning of photosynthesis, understanding the chemical processes that enable plants to convert light into energy.

2. Explain how plants use glucose: Delving deeper, this lesson explores the practical applications of glucose in plants and its significance in sustaining life processes.

3. Explain why plants are important: Beyond the science, students discover the broader ecological importance of plants and their role in maintaining balance within ecosystems. If you are exploring topical issues - particularly anything related to conservation - this lesson offers a good opportunity to further explore current events with your class. 

4. Explain how plants maintain gas levels in the atmosphere: This lesson sheds light on the crucial role plants play in regulating atmospheric gas levels, linking the biological processes to environmental stability.

5. Describe the structure of a leaf: Understanding the anatomy of leaves becomes key as students explore how structure influences function in the context of photosynthesis.

6. Explain how plants gain minerals, nutrients and water: The final lesson demystifies how plants acquire essential elements for growth, tying together the entire photosynthesis process.

7. Revise photosynthesis: The unit concludes with a revision session, reinforcing key concepts and ensuring a solid grasp of the intricacies of photosynthesis.

In conclusion, our KS3 photosynthesis unit not only equips students with a profound understanding of biological interactions but also opens their eyes to the myriad career opportunities in STEM fields. With a well-rounded approach that combines theoretical knowledge with real-world applications, this unit stands as a testament to the innovative and engaging teaching resources offered by Developing Experts.

To visit the unit and explore each lesson, click here. To set up a free two-week trial to explore all our KS3 units, click here