Processes within cells depend on biological molecules whose structure is related to their function. Inside every cell are reactions that are essential for life. Students need to be able to describe the process of cellular respiration and understand it is continuously occurring in all living cells. Students need to be able to compare the processes of aerobic and anaerobic respiration. Students should appreciate that enzymes are important proteins, essential for reactions to take place. Other biological molecules are also important and students need to be able to explain the importance of sugars, amino acids, fatty acids and glycerol in the synthesis and breakdown of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins.
Students commonly hold the misconception that ventilation is respiration, this misconception is held because of the respiratory system. It is very important therefore to address this at the beginning of teaching this topic through clear definitions of the terms respiration, ventilation and breathing. One approach is to ask students to develop concept maps for each term ( see examples at: http://www.sci-culture.com/advancedpoll/GCSE/differencebetweenbreathinga... ). Another approach is through the use of analogies.
Students also struggle with both the word and symbol equations for respiration and often confuse these with the equation for photosynthesis. Using a sort card activity often helps with this particular difficulty.
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