BioNow Student Study Guide: Energy Part I-Energy Transformations
Part I: Pre-Video Questions
1) Provide a brief definition of the following terms to gain familiarity before watching the video.
b. Mechanical energy:
c. Chemical energy:
d. First law of thermodynamics
e. Second law of thermodynamics
Please read the video summary below and answer the questions that follow in detail.
Think of your cell phone, your car, and your bicycle. What do they all have in common? Each of them requires an
input of energy to work. It is no different for living organisms. Life would not work without a constant input of
energy. Imagine a plant without light or a person without food. Eventually their energy runs out and they die
because their cells cannot carry out reactions or maintain organization. Like your bedroom when no effort is spent
cleaning, a living organism goes into disarray without constant energy.
It is a natural law that everything in the universe becomes less organized and loses usable energy. Stars burn out,
cores of planets cool, and mountains erode. However, life has found a way to overcome this law (at least
temporarily). Living organisms strive to maintain a constant input of energy instead of a loss like everything else.
They do this through the energy transforming processes of photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Without them,
the flow of energy in living organisms like you would stop, and life would cease to exist.
The purpose of this experiment is to examine the processes of energy transfer by attempting to build a human-
powered growth chamber with common materials. If successful, the growth chamber will be able to transfer
energy from a person, to light, to a plant, and back to the person who eats the plant. At the very least, the
processes of energy transfer, photosynthesis, and cellular respiration will be understood.
2) Describe in detail how you would attempt to build a growth-chamber for growing plants. The
device would need to be completely powered by a person and grow plants such as sugar beets.
3) What are your predictions for the outcome of the experiment in the video?
4) Does a project like this have any practical value? Can you think of any need to have a working
human-powered growth chamber?
Part II: Video Questions
5) Describe all the energy transfers that took place from pedaling to creating light.
6) In what forms did the energy exist through the transfers (mechanical, chemical, electrical, heat,
7) What is the overall goal of the experiment?
8) What kind of plant will be grown in the chamber? Why is it a better choice than something like
lettuce for the purpose of transferring energy back to a person who eats it?
9) Describe the components of the growth chamber and why each is necessary.
10) How does the growth chamber demonstrate the first law of thermodynamics?
11) How does the growth chamber demonstrate the second law of thermodynamics?
12) How will the laws of thermodynamics make it difficult for the growth chamber to be successful?
13) How do enzymes in living organisms help counteract the laws of thermodynamics?
14) What is ATP and how does it apply to the growth chamber?
15) What is the next energy transformation process to be tackled in the experiment?
16) How would you find the best light to use for the growth chamber?
17) Was the scientific method used in this experiment? Explain how it was or was not followed.
Part III: Video Evaluation
18) Do you think the information in the video was accurate, such as how the laws of thermodynamics
and enzymes applied to the growth chamber?
19) Do you think the final outcome of this project, growing sugar beets with only human power, will
20) What would you have done differently in building the growth chamber?
Part IV: Video Reflection
21) What was the most interesting part of the video?
22) What was something new you learned?
23) What are you confused about from the video?
24) Do you see any relationships to your life? Why or why not?
25) Which part would you like to learn more about?
26) What follow-up experiment would you like to do and how would you relate it to your life?