Cellular respiration activity

Respiration Activity

Developed by: John Merrill, Donna Koslowsky

This activity uses an approach that is repeated with the module on photosynthesis. 

Learning Objective:

"Students will be able to trace the major transfers and transformations of matter and energy that take place during the major processes and subprocesses of cellular respiration and fermentation."

Textbook: Campbell 9e; Chapter 9 Cell Respiration

Connection to Vision and Change*
Core Concepts

Biological systems grow and change by processes based upon chemical transformation pathways and are governed by the laws of thermodynamics.
Living systems are interconnected and interacting.
Core Competencies
Biology focuses on the study of complex systems.

*Vision and Change: A Call to Action. Washington, DC: AAAS; 2010.  www.visionandchange.org/VC_report.pdf. 


NOTE: There are 2 versions of this exercise provided here.  The first is the original idea that asks students to complete an unlabeled diagram, followed by clicker assessments.  The second is a more elaborate version that has students do much more in the way of building their own diagrams, and with additional clicker assessments.

Version 1.  Complete an unlabeled diagram.

This exercise would typically occur at the conclusion of lectures/discussions of key points on cellular respiration. Students receive a handout (see pdf below) and are asked to label inputs and outputs of a 4-box diagram, with the boxes intended to represent glycolysis, pyruvate oxidation, citric acid (Krebs) cycle, and the electron transport chain/oxidative phosphorylation. Students are encouraged to work in groups to complete the activity. Following completion, a series of clicker questions probes their learning and uncovers possible weaknesses therein.

Version 2.  Building student diagrams.

In this exercise students build and manipulate models that emphasize inputs and outputs of matter and energy. This is achieved by having students work with box and arrow diagrams. A classroom session might look like this:

Pre-class: reading, homework

In Class:

1. mini-lecture (e.g. glycolysis)

2. Activity: build a box/arrow diagram of glycolysis

3.  Formative Clicker Assessments

[repeat 1 - 3 for pyruvate oxidation, Krebs cycle, E.T.C./OxPhos].

4. Students build 4-box combined summary diagram.

5. Formative clicker assessments.

The sequence begins with a simple activity in which they draw and label a box for one subprocess (glycolysis), adding arrows for all inputs and outputs. They can then build additional parts of the model until the entire process is complete (e.g. cell respiration). Participation/accountability is monitored via closely coupled clicker questions, as these activites were originally designed for use in large enrollment classes unsuited to evaluation of individual drawings/models.

Associated Questions

Energy from glucose

Atoms in glucose

Weight loss

Handout for students36.6 KB
Single and multi process activity instructions and clicker questions2.35 MB
All processes clicker questions2.36 MB

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (DUE grants: 1438739, 1323162, 1347740, 0736952 and 1022653). Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.