Cellular Respiration and Photosynthesis Project

We had just spent 3 days in class going over the 3 stages of cellular respiration in depth, and then on the 4th day, I assigned this project:

Cellular Respiration and Photosynthesis Project

I started out by giving them some simple diagrams of photosynthesis and asked them how this related to cellular respiration. They figured out very quickly that they are essentially the reverse of each other, and the only differences are where the products and reactants are being used as well as what the electron carriers are.

So then I explained that in this project, they needed to explain in detail all 6 process and then compare and contrast how some of them were similar and different (i.e. the Krebs Cycle and the Calvin Cycle).

The results were STELLAR to say the least. The amount of thought that went into them was unparalleled and some of the projects looked very professional.

Thoughts and Tips:

  • It took students about 5 40-minute classes to do this
  • It helps if you have them find the content first (figure out how to explain all 6 processes) and then have them begin filming/singing/whichever medium they choose
  • iMovie works really well for filming–just make sure they have the audio lined up with the content

Cellular Respiration: The Play

My students (and I) were getting bored with the chalkboard and teacher version of understanding cellular respiration, so I decided to try something different: acting. This was an epic fail when I was a student teacher (complete with me standing on my desk and yelling out instructions), but I tweaked it this time around and made a script, assigned everyone roles, and even made one of the students the narrator:

Cellular Respiration The Play

This time around, it was a huge success–the students really loved that they could see how the sugar molecule was breaking down and where each of those carbons were going.


  • type in the students name directly onto the document so that they can see how they are “cast” throughout
  • have some of the roles carry though (i.e. have the 3 kids in pyruvate #1 from glycolysis be the pyruvate molecule in the Krebs cycle)–this makes it more fun for the kids and helps them to see how it’s a continuous process
  • have them make signs indicating what they are (i.e. ATP #1 had a sign that said ATP on one side and ADP on the other side so that everyone could see the switch that was made)
  • have them do one stage at a time–to to it all from start to finish gets complicated with the part switches
  • have them do a “dress rehearsal”–I had them all run through their parts one time, and then they did the “final show” which ran much smoother