Photosynthesis with TELE: Virtual Experiment, Pintrest and Online Forum

The project I explored was “Photosynthesis: Initial Ideas”. I am not a teacher but customized the lesson based on how I would like to teach my daughter about photosynthesis when she grows up. I modified the lesson to incorporate three more activities – a real-life photosynthesis experiment, photosynthesis virtual experiment, and sharing the analysis of the experiment. The activities will provide students with an introduction to the scientific observation process, discovery, and analysis. The first activity was called “How Do Leaves Breathe?” –  a simple science experiment that students can run at home before class, without any technology.  The activity will encourage students to observe and discover how plants produce oxygen through photosynthesis that is in progress, in a real-life setting. For the second activity, asked students to play with a photosynthesis virtual experiment. Playing with the virtual experiment will also help them understand the relationship between the level of sunlight and the corresponding intensity of the photosynthesis. During the process, students will inquire regarding plants’ energy transformation. Finally, the last two activities will be added after the first class is complete: 1) ask students to take pictures of the final results of their experiment and upload them to Pintrest so that students can share and compare their experiment 2) ask students to share their experiment story using the photos uploaded to Pintrest and to ask questions about photosynthesis in an online small group forum. This last step has three benefits:  firstly, it will alleviate any student misconceptions formed during the class; secondly, it will help students scaffold each other’s learning within a group; thirdly, and most importantly, the technology will be used to capture students’ reflections, plans, discourse, and results, in order to help teachers obtain a detailed record of how each student group perceives the project (Linn et al., 2004). The last two activities are important because, as Kim & Hannafin (2011) point out, “social-networking technologies foster a wide range of opportunities for scientists to collaborate and build knowledge simultaneously through distributed reasoning” (p. 414).

Kim, M. C., & Hannafin, M. J. (2011). Scaffolding problem solving in technology-enhanced learning environments (TELEs): Bridging research and theory with practice. Computers & Education, 56(2), 403-417.

Williams, M. Linn, M.C. Ammon, P. & Gearhart, M. (2004). Learning to teach inquiry science in a technology-based environment: A case study. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 13(2), 189-206.



  1. What a wonderful example of using WISE to complement real world photosynthesis experiments!

    1. Hi, Andrew, that is exactly what I thought when I found the simple real-world experiments. There are great ways to utilize real-world applications within WISE!

  2. Hi Andrew. I think your first activity is a great way to build scaffolding at home, in order to further support inquiry in the classroom. I am wondering what grade you geared this towards? Also, I thought the Pinterest idea was interesting as I have never used that in the classroom. You could also have them post to a class blog. A great way to self-reflect and observe their peers ideas. Thanks for the post and ideas.

    1. Hi DANIELLE

      I was aiming 5-6th Grade for the lesson. I even think that the lesson can be extended to 3-4th Grade if the lesson activities are simplified. I used Pinterest a few occasions for my previous ETEC projects, and it seems like a great tool to promote hands-on activities and discussions in one space.

  3. Hi

    I like the fact that you shared your personal experience – how teaching begins at home

    I wonder if teachers have their students complete virtual labs at home prior to actual hands-on labs in the school?

    A good next step might be to take your daughter to a nursery — to see how they grow the food we eat. To show her how it has changed in the last 20 years or so.


    1. Hi Christopher

      What a great idea to take my daughter to a nursery! That will be in my to-do-list when she grows up.
      I think that having the virtual labs at home help students understand complicated topic/concepts better as a scaffolding activity.

  4. Hi!

    Thanks for sharing how you would run this project in a class. I really liked how you decided to use Pinterest. But out of curiosity, why did you decide to use it instead of a shared basket or something that is already built in within WISE? Was it to show students how to use a certain type of social media? To connect them with other content within Pinterest that may be relevant? Perhaps the Pinterest platform is more visually appealing?

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    1. Hi Momoe

      To be honest, I have not used WISE features that much and thought that the Idea Basket feature doesn’t seem like supporting comment feature. I used Pinterest for my previous ETEC courses, and it was great in terms of promoting a space for sharing pictures, URLs and even discussion in one place.


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