The Sunlight Catcher

Photosynthesis is the chemical process by which plants make their own food using sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. 

The roots absorb water, and the leaves absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Sunlight is one of the key ingredients needed for a plant’s recipe to make food. 

The leaves are mini solar panels that absorb sunlight.

  • Chloroplasts are tiny structures inside a leaf that act as factories that process raw materials to produce goods.
  • Chlorophyll, the pigment inside the chloroplast, absorbs red and blue light from the light spectrum and reflects green light.


Magic of Sunlight

Sunlight is a shower of tiny particles called “photons” raining down on a leaf.

Each photo is a packet of energy. When these packets of energy hit the green molecule (chlorophyll), it sets off a chain of events.

  • The chlorophyll enters an excited state of energy.
  • This excited energy breaks down the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Hydrogen combines with carbon dioxide’s carbon to produce “Glucose.”
  • Glucose is a type of sugar that the plants use as food to grow and reproduce. 
  • Oxygen, released as a by-product of photosynthesis, sustains life on Earth.


Fun Facts

Here are some interesting facts about the magic of photosynthesis:

  • The word “photosynthesis” comes from the Greek words “photo” (light) and “synthesis” (putting together). So, photosynthesis means “putting together with light.”
  • Photosynthesis evolved around 3.4 billion years ago, making it one of Earth’s oldest known biochemical processes.
  • Some plants, known as C4 plants, have evolved a special type of photosynthesis that allows them to thrive in hot, dry conditions. Examples include corn and sugarcane.
  • Photosynthesis is also responsible for producing the fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) that we use for energy.



Let’s quickly recap what we learned about the magic of photosynthesis:

  • Which plant part acts as a mini solar panel to absorb sunlight? Leaf
  • What tiny structures inside the leaf act as factories to process the raw materials for photosynthesis? Chloroplasts
  • What are the tiny packets of energy from the sun that get absorbed by the leaves?  Photons
  • What is the green molecule inside the chloroplast that gets into an excited state of energy when hit by sunlight? Chlorophyll
  • Which molecule gets split by the excited energy into hydrogen and oxygen? Water Molecule
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