Photosynthesis is the most important biological process on Earth. Without it, we wouldn’t have air to breath or food to eat. However, investigating photosynthesis in the classroom poses its own challenges because the process can be difficult to observe. We’ve compiled here several experiments you can recreate in the classroom using easily accessible items to investigate how photosynthesis works.

For Years K-10 we have created lesson plans (with curriculum links) that make it easy for teachers to deliver impactful yet inexpensive science lessons to inspire the next generation of scientists.

For years 11-12, our researchers have created  an engaging  series of videos based on cutting-edge research. Each video has been matched to the curriculum. Watch them here


Click in the links below to access the lessons by year (K-10):

Foundation – Jack and what grows the beanstalk

Year 1 – Where the wild things grow

Year 2 – Small change, big difference

Year 3 – Energy, eaten alive!

Year 4 – Carbon cycle sustainability

Year 5 – Structural features and stems for survival

Year 6 – Designed to survive and thrive for life

Years 7-10 – Classifying Systems in Cells


Click in the link below to access the Planting Science videos (Years 11-12):


These series of videos have been created by researchers working within the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis.

Each video has been matched to the curriculum and is based on cutting edge research.







Lollecules Activity

Plants use energy from the sun to convert 6 carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules and 6 water molecules (H2O) into one glucose structure (C6H12O6) and 6 oxygen molecules (O2). This activity involves using lollies as atoms and toothpicks as bonds to make the molecules before photosynthesis and after photosynthesis.

Students will notice the same atoms are used for both equations. Lollies we used were red raspberries for oxygen, liquorice for the carbon atoms and mini white marshmallows for the hydrogen atoms.

Print this double sided  Lollecule instructions for an activity that’s ready to go.

In answer to the question at the bottom of the page, once the glucose molecule is absorbed by the body, 1 glucose molecule and 6 oxygen molecules will revert back to the pre-photosynthesis molecules, of 6 carbon dioxide molecules and 6 water molecules.


Leaf Disk Investigation

Leaves will naturally float because there are small pockets of air in it. If you force the air out using a vacuum (a syringe), and replace the air with solution (water mixed with sodium bicarbonate and a small amount of dish washing detergent), the rate of photosynthesis can be measured when the disks start to float again, as the oxygen produced through photosynthesis displaces the solution.

This experiment can be recreated in the classroom using this protocol: Floating Leaf Disks for Investigating Photosynthesis.

The video below, by Paul Andersen is available at and is an excellent guide for this experiment:


Algae Balls Investigation

In this experiment, single celled algae are grown into a concentrated culture. The concentrated algae are then immobilised in a jelly-like substance, creating equal amounts of photosynthetic material in each sphere. Using a pH indicator, we can measure the rate of photosynthesis and the effect of variable contributing factors.
The experiment can be recreated in the classroom using Algae balls instructions based in a protocol created by the University of Reading. This activity was adapted from a resource developed through the Science and Plants for Schools (SAPS) programme. The original resource and others supporting biology education can be downloaded for free from the SAPS website:


Leaf Pigment Chromatography

You can separate the two main chlorophyll pigments using the technique shown in this video below by Alex Dainis. There are two main types of chlorophyll in leaves: chlorophyll A, which is bluish-green, and chlorophyll B, which is yellowish-green.

Or explore this video, by bludoorlabsmedia