Questions for ‘Scientists look to hack photosynthesis for a ‘greener’ planet’

Scientists are looking at how plants turn sunlight into sugars — a process known as photosynthesis — as a model for cleaner ways to produce energy for people and industry. Their research even suggests ways people can help plants photosynthesize more efficiently.

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To accompany feature “Scientists look to hack photosynthesis for a ‘greener’ planet


Before Reading:

1.  What do you know about photosynthesis?

2.  How might photosynthesis be important to life on Earth?

During Reading:

1.  What is the basic chemistry that happens in photosynthesis?

2.  What two things are produced by photosynthesis? Why are they important to people and other living organisms?

3.  Does a plant get burned if it gets too much sunlight? How does a plant handle sudden bright sunlight?

4.  Why are scientists trying to imitate photosynthesis?

5.  What are “solar fuels”? Name any examples you can think of.

6.  What is a catalyst? How are scientists trying to use a plant catalyst to create solar fuels?

7.  Scientists are also trying to “hack” photosynthesis to improve crop production. Why?

8.  What enzyme are crop scientists trying to engineer? When this enzyme makes a mistake, what is the result?

9.  How might correcting that enzyme’s mistakes improve crop yields?

10.  Why are scientists using tobacco plants to study this enzyme? What will they do next with the lessons they learn from their tobacco studies?

After Reading:

1.  In what ways are plants critical to sustaining life on our planet?

2.  How are humans contributing to the warming of our planet? What impact does this warming have on us and other people around the world? In what ways might growing more plants help?