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Key Ideas

  • Food is digested to provide the nutrients needed by the cells in your body.
  • Cellular respiration is the process in which sugar molecules are chemically broken down to produce energy.
  • Total energy requirements vary depending on your size, physical activities, and age.
  • Eating a balanced diet means choosing foods that provide the recommended amounts of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water.


Students expand their knowledge of food nutrients by examining how they are converted into energy within cells through the process of cellular respiration. They use a calorimeter to measure the heat energy released from a peanut. Students learn the average daily energy requirements for their age and chart their energy needs based on selected daily activities. Students study the food pyramid and identify examples and recommended daily amounts of each of the five food groups. Students revisit their food diaries from Section 1 to compare energy taken in with energy needed.



\checkmark describe how the energy stored in food molecules is released through the process of cellular respiration.

\checkmark learn how to measure food energy stored in a peanut.

\checkmark identify the five different food groups and the major nutrients in each food group.

\checkmark estimate individual energy needs over a 24-hour period.

\checkmark demonstrate how to use the food pyramid as a guide for healthy eating.


calorie, cellular respiration, combustion

Student Materials

Activity 2-1: Calories: In a Nutshell

  • Data Sheet
  • Resource
  • Activity Report
  • Goggles; Test tube; Test-tube holder; Calorimeter (a can adapted for this purpose); Thermometer; Graduated cylinder; Cork; Needle; Matches; Peanuts

Activity 2-2: Calories: How Much Energy Do You Use?

  • Data Sheet
  • Activity Report

Teacher Materials

Activity 2-1: Calories: In a Nutshell

  • Activity Report Answer Key
  • Resources on heat energy, nutrition

Activity 2-2: Calories: How Much Energy Do You Use?

  • Activity Report Answer Key
  • Calorie expenditure charts and resources

Advance Preparation

See Activities 2-1 and 2-2 in the Student Edition

Activity 2 -1: Calories: In a Nutshell

  • Collect 8-ounce cans.
  • Make calorimeters as described in the Activity in the Teacher's Edition on TE p. 26.

Activity 2 -2: Calories: How Much Energy Do You Use?

  • Gather charts and resources that list various activities and their calorie expenditures per unit time.

Interdisciplinary Connections

Math Students calculate averages and percents and practice making data tables and charts. Perhaps the computational part of the activity can be done in math class.

Physical Education Relate the calories in food to the fuel needed for a young person's daily activities. Compare energy requirements for various sports and physical activities.

Social Studies Discuss how different cultures regard physical activity and exercise. Compare calorie requirements for different types of jobs, for instance, between a computer programmer and a construction worker.

Background Information

It should be noted that physiologists are abandoning the calorie as an energy unit and switching to the System of International units used by most European countries. The replacement for the calorie in the System of International units is the joule; one calorie (Cal) is equal to 4.184 joules.

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Date Created:

Feb 23, 2012

Last Modified:

Apr 29, 2014
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