Plants make oxygen during the process of photosynthesis. This process is a plant's way of making food. Oxygen is a byproduct of that process. Plants need carbon dioxide, water and sunlight for photosynthesis to occur. Carbon dioxide is found in the air, and absorbed through a plant's leaves. Sunlight is needed because the energy found in sunlight is what powers the whole process. This energy from light is trapped by something in the leaves called chloroplasts. The molecules found in water are the final ingredients. These molecules get to the leaves by way of capillary action. Capillaries are very tiny tubes through which the water molecules travel. Water in the soil is absorbed through the roots, then attracted to the surface of the capillaries. This attraction to the surface of these tiny veins is what causes the water to move up the stem and into the leaves, where it is used for photosynthesis.
Once the water is in the leaves, the plant uses energy from the sun to break apart the molecules in the water into three groups: oxygen atoms, electrons and hydrogen protons. Then, the plant mixes up the molecules in a new way. It takes the carbon dioxide molecules and adds the hydrogen to them, creating a food called a carbohydrate.
Once the carbohydrates are produced, there are some remaining oxygen atoms that the plant does not need. The plants takes those leftover atoms and groups them into pairs, creating oxygen molecules (O2). Then the plant puts them back into the air, providing oxygen for mammals to breathe.
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