Learning stageStage 4, Stage 5, Stage 6
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Head out into nature and you’ll see all the colours of the rainbow. Vast blue oceans, white snow-capped mountains, animal life from bright reds to deep purples, and of course green, green plants. Plants make up about 80 percent of life on this planet, and while they can be a variety of hues themselves, most plants are green.
The vast majority plants on Earth also contain chlorophyll, a unique molecule that allows them to turn light into energy. It is this reaction that supports nearly all life on the planet. They will absorb CO2 and light and output oxygen and food for themselves.
Why are plants green and what exactly does chlorophyll do? Watch year 8 student Darcy’s 2-minute video to find out more!
- Plants which have chlorophyll and thus use photosynthesis to make their own food are called autotrophs. Animals that eat plants or other animals for energy are called heterotrophs.
- The sun emits most of its energy at a wavelength around 500nm, which is close to blue-green light. While it may look yellow to us and does include every colour of the visible spectrum, the sun is shining with primarily blue-green light.
- While we often thank land plants for producing oxygen, the vast majority of our atmospheric oxygen comes from phytoplankton, microscopic marine organisms which also contain chlorophyll.
- Describe and draw the structure of chlorophyll. Which part of the molecule makes it that distinctive green?
- What is chlorophyll’s role in the food chain? How is an apex predator, like a shark, dependent of chlorophyll?
- Can you name three other pigments in plants beyond chlorophyll?
About the video
In The Crazy World of Chlorophyll, Darcy investigates the dominant colour in nature: green. With the help of animation and stop-motion, he explains why so many leaves and plants share the same traits, visualises the photosynthesis process and shares just how many living things rely on the superpower pigment, chlorophyll.
Sponsored by the University of Sydney, the Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize is a national short film competition that encourages school students to communicate a scientific concept in a way that is accessible and entertaining to the public while painlessly increasing their science knowledge. It is intended to support budding young scientists across the nation, who will be our future leaders in research, discovery and communication. You can learn more about the Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize here.