Cellular respiration is the process most cells use to convert food molecules to energy. In multicellular organisms like humans and trees, cellular respiration takes place in the mitochondria. These important organelles and the high-energy molecules of ATP they produce power virtually every biochemical reaction that takes place - both in your body and in the plants and animals around you!
Mitochondria play host to one of the most important processes in your body: cellular respiration. Taking in glucose and oxygen, mitochondria produce energy, which they capture and package as energy-rich molecules of ATP. In PBS' video, the structure and functions that give mitochondria their nickname - "the powerhouses of the cell" - are described.
After students view the video, use follow up discussion questions to keep the conversation about mitochondria going.
- What are the differences in the muscles of a sprinter and a marathon runner?
- How would you explain that skin cells have a lot fewer mitochondria than muscle cells?
- If you looked at heart cells, would you expect to see a lot of mitochondria or only a few? Why?
This curriculum was produced by the WGBH Educational Foundation and funded by the National Science Foundation.