Monday, May 12, 2008

Big Circle of Energy

Energy changes form at each step in the food chain. Take an ear of corn as an example.
Sunlight is taken in by the leaves on the corn stalk and transformed through photosynthesis. The plant takes in sunlight and combines it with carbon dioxide from the air and water and minerals from the ground.
The plant grows tall and creates the ears of corn - its seeds. The energy of the sunlight is stored in the leaves and inside the corn kernels. The corn kernels are full of energy stored as sugars and starch. The corn is harvested and is fed to chickens and other animals. The chickens use the stored energy in the corn on the cob to grow and to move. Some energy is stored in the animal in its muscle tissue (protein) and in the fat.
The chicken reaches maturity, a farmer slaughters it and prepares it to be sold. It's transported to the grocery store. People buy the chicken at the supermarket, bring it home and cook it (using energy).
You then eat the chicken's meat and fat and convert that stored energy into energy in your own body. Maybe you ate the chicken at a picnic. Then you went and played baseball. You're using the energy from that chicken to swing the bat, run the bases and throw the ball.
As your body uses the energy from the chicken, you breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. That carbon dioxide is then used by other plants to grow.
So, it's a big circle!


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