Cellular Biology: Respiration

Lesson Title: Cellular Biology: Respiration
Academic Standards: HS-LS1-7, HS-LS2-3, MS-LS3-1, MS-LS4-5
Content Creator: Mrs. Wendy Martin
Level: High School
Duration: 35-45 min
  /  Cellular Biology: Respiration


  • Define energy.
  • Understand the First Law of Thermodynamics.
  • Define cellular respiration.
  • Be able to identify the reactants and products in the cellular respiration formula.
  • See the structure of a mitochondrion.
  • Understand the origins of mitochondria.
  • Learn the steps of cellular respiration.
  • Be able to identify the products of each step.
  • Be able to state the total ATP molecules made in the overall process.
  • Know how anaerobic respiration differs from aerobic respiration.
  • See how anaerobic respiration (aka fermentation) is used in the food industry.


All living things require energy to metabolize and survive. The First Law of Thermodynamics says that energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can however, be transferred or transformed. In a process known as cellular respiration, the mitochondria within a cell will transform the energy stored in glucose into ATP, a source of potential energy for cellular processes. In this lesson students will see that there are two types of respiration: aerobic and anaerobic. In this lesson students will learn about the origin and structure of mitochondria. They will learn the steps of cellular respiration and how the process ultimately makes between 34-38 ATPs per glucose. Students will sketch a mitochondria and its steps. They will also go on a field trip into a school kitchen and learn how anaerobic respiration is used in the food industry,


  1. Watch VR Intro Video: Cellular Respiration.
  2. Discuss energy and energy flow in an ecosystem.
  3. Allow students to manipulate a sun, plant, plant eater, and carnivore, putting them in the correct order of energy flow.
  4. Introduce Cellular Respiration and its formula.
  5. Using sticky notes have the students put the reactants and products in the right order.
  6. Introduce the basic structure of mitochondria.
  7. Describe its origins through the Endosymbiotic Theory.
  8. Take a virtual field trip into a cell, and look at mitochondrial structure. (Link is found in ancillary section.)
  9. Discuss the steps of cell respiration and how the mitochondria breaks down glucose and releases the energy stored into it.
  10. Discuss how each step makes a certain number of ATPS.
  11. Focus on the final step that includes the enzyme ATP synthase.
  12. Introduce anaerobic respiration
  13. Go on a virtual field trip: Fermenting with Wendy. It reviews aerobic respiration and shows how anaerobic respiration is used in the food industry.

Suggested Ancillary Support

Other IFXs that can be used in the discussion of energy flow: a plant of any type, a plant eater (cow or goat for example), a carnivore (wolf, bear, lion, etc). When discussing the formula you can use IFX examples.  Glucose (bread fruit, potato, etc) Oxygen and CO2 (human lungs) and water ( a water bottle maybe)   360 video that shows mitochondria : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDVnKTT8CZE