Timelapse: Photosynthesis Seen from Space

Contributor
California Academy of Science
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Phenomenon
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

This two and a half minute video from the California Academy of Sciences shows seasonal variation in primary productivity, both on land and in the ocean, as seen from space. The visualization is based on empirical scientific data collected over time.   

The phenomenon could engage students along with the following driving questions:

  • What factors control changes in primary productivity over time, on land and in the ocean?

  • How do seasonal changes in sunlight affect plant growth?

  • What indicators could be used to measure the rate of photosynthesis from space?

  • What areas of our planet are most productive, and why?

A suggested lesson plan is provided that integrates this phenomenon.

Intended Audience

Learner
Educational Level
  • High School
  • Middle School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

MS-LS1-6 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on tracing movement of matter and flow of energy.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the biochemical mechanisms of photosynthesis.

This resource was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Observing how colors on the map fluctuate in repeated patterns can prompt students to consider factors that impact photosynthesis on Earth. Students can infer that sunlight intensity affects the location and rate of photosynthesis. The discussions can help students build toward the performance expectation. The teacher can also stop the video at 30 seconds before the labels show up and ask students what questions they have or what they think the color indicates to reveal their thinking at that point.

HS-LS2-5 Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.

Clarification Statement: Examples of models could include simulations and mathematical models.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the specific chemical steps of photosynthesis and respiration.

This resource was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Observing how colors on the map fluctuate in repeated patterns can prompt students to consider what process(es) on Earth absorb carbon, and possible factors that impact primary productivity on Earth. The discussions can help students build toward the performance expectation.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource was not designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students watching the video will notice that primary production on land and in the oceans changes throughout the year. This can lead students to predict what causes carbon absorption to change, allowing the teacher to assess students’ prior knowledge on photosynthesis.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource was not designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students may know that plants on land need sunlight for photosynthesis, but they may not be as familiar with algae in the ocean. Observing the same fluctuating patterns on land and in the ocean can foster this connection and foster understanding. Since the visualization is based on carbon absorption, it is important to help students understand the process that absorbs carbon is photosynthesis.

This resource was not designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students may know that plants need sunlight for photosynthesis. They may not be aware of this on a global scale and how this contributes to seasonal fluctuation of carbon intake. Because the visualization is based on carbon absorption, it is important to help students understand the process that absorbs carbon is photosynthesis.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
This timelapse video demonstrates how energy from the sun affects the rate of photosynthesis on Earth. Knowing this relationship may help students understand that energy is needed to drive the carbon cycle.

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
As students observe this timelapse video, they are encouraged to make the connection that the variable input of energy from the sun changes how fast carbon cycles among the biosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: - none -

  • Instructional Supports: - none -

  • Monitoring Student Progress: - none -

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: - none -