Sunday, November 14, 2010

Photosynthesis for Third Graders

Last week was the week for edible ‘leaves’ to take center stage in the third grade classroom. One cannot know leaves without knowing photosynthesis. The trouble is photosynthesis is not in their course curriculum. Simply touching upon the subject and moving ahead seemed unfair to them. It would be like Rambo movie without the fight sequences! So I took a chance to try pushing the young minds a little more than the rules laid by the School Board.

I prepared a simple PowerPoint presentation. At chlorophyll stage, we did an experiment of rubbing the leaves on a paper towel to see the pigment. Many kids ended up drawing a picture of leaves and colored it with the green pigment of the real leave. At the plant making food for itself in form of glucose stage, they got a taste of commercially manufactured glucose. The powder form, the taste and the fact that you can blow it towards your classmates simply to tease caught their interest. We had a little glucose fight which got stuck on our clothes and became sticky.

In short I can say that PowerPoint presentation helped in making the kids understand the basic concept of how plants make their own food, why do plants have green leaves and how do plants help humans in the process.

As for the edible leaves, they themselves answered that all the leafy vegetables, salad greens, and herbs that we consume are considered edible leaves. Bay leave is one exception which is a spice.

I am glad I told them about photosynthesis even though they will be reading about it in detail next year, but it wouldn’t catch them by surprise. They may not remember all the facts but I am sure between now and then their curiosities will teach them way more than what books can ever teach.

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