Sustainicum Collection

Consus The aim of the project is to establish a regional science-society network for sustainability innovations in Albania and Kosovo in order to strengthen the connection and collaboration of institutions in the field of higher education, research and practice.

Resource facts

  • 5 to 10 students
  • Up to 3 lecture units
  • English, German

Resource Description

Instruction file

Additional attachments

Acting Out Cellular Respiration as a Ball Game(Resource ID: 185)

By acting out cellular respiration as a ball game, the energy and material flows of respiration are made apparent. Balls or fruits of various sizes and colors represent the atoms and molecules that the participants, according to the basic equation of cellular respiration, gather or “absorb,” separate, and piece together again in new connections. Emphasis is placed on conveying the stoichiometric relations correctly, thereby increasing the actability of the exercise. The participants portray various biochemically active substances. They cooperate according to the biochemistry of cellular respiration as it breaks down carbohydrates.

The activity shows cellular respiration in its role of breaking down carbohydrates generated by the sun’s energy. Hydrogen atoms previously bound in carbohydrates are newly connected to the oxygen released from water during photosynthesis. This makes it possible for breathing organisms to use the stored solar energy.

The building block makes it clear that animals and humans are dependent on the oxygen in the atmosphere generated by plants and that all biomass in circulation is generated by organisms, which carry out photosynthesis.

By acting out the biochemical processes using people and ordinary materials the concepts become more easily understandable. The transfer, separation and joining of the balls and fruits make the substance flow tangible and understandable. The rules of the game are based on its biochemical foundation and therefore also convey information on chemistry.

A ball game with movement is a fun and unique way of conveying knowledge.

Supplied material

  • Balls with Velcro: oxygen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide

Description of application during the course

  • The acting exercise can be used in all lectures in which cellular respiration, carbon cycles, oxygen cycles, or the sun’s energy as a universal energy source are central topics.
  • The scene can be acted without knowing more than the basic equation: the theoretical background of the „rules of the game“ can also be explained to help increase understanding of the biochemistry of cellular respiration in breaking down carbohydrates.

Aha effect for students

  • Life can not exist without the sun
  • Life on Earth is a material and energy flow
  • Without plants there would not exist oxygen

This building block can be combined with the building block Acting Out Photosynthesis as a Ball Game.

Learning Outcomes
- To recognize that the sun as the source of vitality of nearly all living organisms;
- To grasp and explain the carbon cycle;
- To grasp and explain the oxygen cycle.
Relevance for Sustainability
For the respiration of biomass, the basic formula of photosynthesis is reversed:
- The sun is the most important energy source.
- Photosynthesis delivers oxygen and biomass and therefore the destruction of the Earth’s large forest areas leads to a severe disturbance of the ecological balance.
Related Teaching Resources
No specific previous knowledge / related resources required
Preparation Efforts
Funded by
Funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research within the framework of the call "Projekt MINT-Massenfächer" (2011/12)

Comments Write Comment

Imri Williams
Imri Williams


Dipl. Ing. Konrad Kaufmann


Konrad Kaufmann
This teaching resource is allocated to following University:
BOKU - University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna


Creative Commons

Teaching Tools & Methods

  • Game
  • Simulation program
  • Simulation