Animal Cell Project Ideas

Instructor: Leah Salyer
Creating an animal cell model as part of a school project might sound like a daunting task, but there are many fun and easy ways to create your own cell model. Read on to learn more about some of the options available.

Styrofoam Cell Model

A model of an animal cell can be made using a Styrofoam ball and other small objects, such as clay, pasta noodles, beads, cardboard and a sponge. Simply cut the Styrofoam ball in half or remove a cross section to reveal the inside of your cell, then add your chosen objects to represent the cell parts. A round sponge can be used to represent the nucleus, pasta noodles could be used to represent the Golgi apparatus and the beads could be used for the mitochondrion. Glue your objects to the Styrofoam ball and label accordingly.

You may wish to take a look at these lessons on the parts of a cell to help you create and label your cell model.

Drawing of an Animal Cell

If you wish to keep your animal cell project simple, you can create a labeled drawing. On a white piece of paper or poster board, draw the outline of your cell and fill in the parts using colored pencils, crayons or markers. Make sure to label all parts of the cell. If you want to add texture to your project, use small objects or bits of paper to represent the parts of the cell. For example, you may wish to use crumbled paper for the nucleus or small beads for the ribosomes.

Edible 3-D Model Using Gelatin

To create this type of 3-D model, you will need to first make gelatin. Light colors work best because they allow you to easily see through your model. Make sure to use slightly less water than usual, as this will create a more solid substance that will help your cell parts stay in place.

Once the gelatin is cool, pour it into a plastic bag. You may find it easier to do this if you place the plastic bag into a container. Leave some space in the bag so that all of your cell parts will fit. Then, close the bag and put it into the refrigerator to finish cooling.

When the gelatin is almost ready, begin to add your cell parts. You can use gummy worms, M&Ms, gumdrops or licorice to serve as the parts of the cell. Once you have included all of your cell parts, seal up the plastic bag and put it back in the refrigerator to finish setting. The best part about this cell model project is that it can be eaten when you're all finished, so make sure to include your favorite candies as your cell parts!

Most of the work in this project involves making the 'cytoplasm.' To learn more about its function and why it's important, view this lesson on the cytoplasm.

Household Objects Cell Model

Create a 3-D animal cell model by using a clear container with a lid and other household objects, such as crayons, string, buttons, beads and rubber bands. You can use crayons to recreate the cell membrane by outlining the edge of the lid. A bottle cap could be glued to the lid to represent the nucleus, while string or rubber bands could be used to represent such organelles as the rough endoplasmic reticulum. To learn more about these structures, check out these lessons on the cell membrane and the endoplasmic reticulum, which will give you a definition as well as explain the function of each part.

Fill in the rest of your container's lid with other objects representing parts of the cell and label if possible. When you're finished, you'll have a colorful and unique 3-D animal cell model.

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