Primary School (K-2)
All animals need food in order to live and grow. They obtain their food from plants or from other animals. Plants need water and light to live and grow.
Elementary School (3-5)
Food provides animals with the materials they need for body repair and growth and the energy they need to maintain body warmth and for motion.
Plants acquire their material for growth chiefly from air and water.
Middle School (6-8)
Plants, algae (including phytoplankton), and many microorganisms use the energy from light to make sugars (food) from carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water through the process of photosynthesis, which also releases oxygen. These sugars can be used immediately or stored for growth or later use.
Within individual organisms, food moves through a series of chemical reactions in which it is broken down and rearranged to form new molecules, to support growth, or to release energy.
High School (9-12)
The process of photosynthesis converts light energy to stored chemical energy by converting carbon dioxide plus water into sugars plus released oxygen.
The sugar molecules thus formed contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen: their hydrocarbon backbones are used to make amino acids and other carbon-based molecules that can be assembled into larger molecules (such as proteins or DNA), used for example to form new cells.
As matter and energy flow through different organizational levels of living systems, chemical elements are recombined in different ways to form different products.
As a result of these chemical reactions, energy is transferred from one system of interacting molecules to another. Cellular respiration is a chemical process in which the bonds of food molecules and oxygen molecules are broken and new compounds are formed that can transport energy to muscles. Cellular respiration also releases the energy needed to maintain body temperature despite ongoing energy transfer to the surrounding environment.