The importance of photosynthesis needs to be appreciated by GCSE Biology students; they should relate this to the fact that photosynthetic organisms are the main producers of food and therefore biomass for life on Earth. Students should be able to describe the process of photosynthesis, including how it is an endothermic reaction. The effect of factors including temperature, light intensity and carbon dioxide concentration on the rate of photosynthesis all need to be understood and the interaction of these factors in limiting the rate of photosynthesis needs to be explained.
Students often confuse the processes of photosynthesis and respiration in plants. They have a misconception that respiration in plants is different to that in other organisms, resulting in the production of Carbon Dioxide. In teaching about photosynthesis it is important to stress that in plants both processes occur depending on conditions and that respiration in plants is the same as in all other organisms.
Some misconceptions that students have about photosynthesis may be as a result of "learning" about the process from an early age, so they often think that the sunlight absorbed by a plant is actually food and that plants "suck up" food from the soil. Students also struggle with the concept of Carbon Dioxide being used in photosynthesis as it isn't something they can see.
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