You can easily make the model of an animal or plant cell in 3D and expose the various elements that compose it. The realization of this fun project does not involve the purchase of expensive items. Indeed, you can make your model by collecting a few simple objects from your home or by buying them.
Method 1 of 4: Learn about cell models
Step 1. Choose the type of cell (plant or animal)
Since each type of cell has its own shape, you first need to decide which cell you want to represent. Your choice will determine the kind of materials needed to build your project.
Step 2. Learn about the elements that make up the plant cell
It is important that you know what these different elements (or organelles) look like and the role each of them plays within the cell. Typically, plant cells are larger than animal cells and they are rectangular or square.
- You can find some very good pictures on the Internet showing the different organelles of a plant cell.
- Unlike an animal cell, a plant cell is surrounded by a thick, rigid cell wall.
- The plant cell has a thick, rigid cell wall. This particular characteristic distinguishes it from the animal cell.
Step 3. Learn about the organelles present in the animal cell
Animal cells do not have a cell wall like plant cells do. Their sizes may vary and their shapes may be irregular. Most animal cells are between 1 and 100 microns in size and can only be seen under a microscope.
- You can also find some great pictures on the Internet that illustrate the different elements of an animal cell.
- Animal cells have smaller vacuoles which store food and nutrients while plant cells have a large vacuole which takes up most of the cell.
Method 2 of 4: Make a gelatin cell model
Step 1. Gather the necessary materials
You will need the following materials to make your gelatin model.
- Gelatin with a natural or lemon flavor.
- Light-colored fruit juice (if you have opted for plain-tasting gelatin).
- An assortment of sweets and fruits such as raisins, worm and cone shaped gummy candies, bean candies (or "jelly bean" in English), grapes, orange tangerine wedges, sprinkles, M & M's, jawbreakers, dried fruits and hard candies. Avoid marshmallows or Chamallows, as these candies will float on the surface of the gelatin.
- Some water.
- A large resealable plastic food bag.
- A large bowl or container.
- Access to a stove or microwave.
- Access to a refrigerator.
Step 2. Cook the gelatin
Add less water to the mixture than what is written on the package. The gelatin will thus be more rigid, which will facilitate the maintenance of the different organelles inside.
- Bring the water to a boil, using only ¾ of the volume of water specified in the recipe. Dissolve the gelatin in hot water and mix well. Then add the same volume of cold water to the mixture.
- If you have opted for a gelatin with a plain taste, replace the cold water with fruit juice to give the gelatin color.
- The gelatin will be used to represent the cytoplasm of the cell.
Step 3. Place the plastic bag in a rigid container
Use for example a large bowl or a saucepan. Gently pour the cooled gelatin inside the sachet.
- Make sure there is enough room in the pouch to add the cellular elements later.
- Seal the bag tightly and place it in the refrigerator.
Step 4. Wait a few moments
Let sit for about an hour until the gelatin is almost solid. Take the bag out of the refrigerator and open it.
Step 5. Pour an assortment of candies inside the bag
These represent the different organelles. Use candy that is the same color and shape as the real cellular items.
- Blue and pink gel candies (American brand Mike and Ikes) for the smooth endoplasmic reticulum.
- Blue and pink gummy candies for the mitochondria.
- Disc sprinkles for the ribosomes.
- Hard sour candy (American brand Warheads) for rough endoplasmic reticulum.
- Sour gummy worms for the Golgi apparatus.
- Caps for the vacuoles.
- Remember that if you are making a plant cell, you will need to add a cell wall around the gelatin. For this, use red licorice or sherbet food powder.
Step 6. Make a legend
It will be used to show which organelle corresponds to each candy. You can use thick paper that you will glue each candy on. You can also create labels on which you will write the different cellular elements by hand or by machine. Then, attach them to the corresponding candies.
Step 7. Seal the model tightly
Always keep it inside the plastic bag and put it back in the refrigerator. The gelatin can finish setting, which will give a very solid cell model.
Feel free to take a photo of your gelatin model… and eat it
Method 3 of 4: Make a cell model with a cake
Step 1. Gather all the necessary ingredients
To make a cake pattern, you will need the following.
- A cake mix (as well as the ingredients needed for the preparation).
- A vanilla glaze.
- One or more food colors of your choice.
- An assortment of candies to represent organelles like blue and pink jelly candies (American brand Mike and Ikes), hard sour candies (American brand Warheads), soft sour candies (American brand Airheads), citric jelly candies in the shape of a worm and vermicelli.
Step 2. Make the cake according to the type of cell to be represented
Use a round dish for an animal cell or a rectangular dish for a plant cell.
- Follow the directions on the cake mix package. You can also reserve some dough to make an individual cupcake that will represent the nucleus (or nucleus) of the cell.
- Let the cake cool completely then unmold it. Place it on a cake board.
- If you want to make a taller model, you can also make two 22 cm diameter cakes and stack them one on top of the other.
Step 3. Frost the cake
Color the vanilla glaze with the food coloring of your choice to represent the different cellular elements.
- You can choose to make several different colored glazes to represent the different layers of the cell. For example, you could use a yellow glaze to represent the cytoplasm and a red glaze for the individual cake that will serve as the core.
- If you want to make a plant cell, you can use a different colored glaze to represent the cell wall and spread it all around the cake.
Step 4. Place the candies on the cake to represent the organelles
You may find it helpful to have previously printed or drawn a section of a cell to make it easier to identify the different cellular elements as you place them on the cake. Here are some candy ideas to use to represent different organelles:
- pink gel candies (American brand Mike and Ikes) to represent the endoplasmic reticulum;
- blue gummies (American brand Mike and Ikes) to represent the mitochondria;
- sprinkles to sprinkle on top of each other until they form a circle to represent ribosomes;
- soft sour candies (American brand Airheads) to represent the rough endoplasmic reticulum;
- citric gummy candies shaped like a worm or caterpillar to represent the Golgi apparatus;
- hard sour candies (American brand Warheads) to represent vacuoles (or vesicles in the case of animal cells).
Step 5. Stick labeled toothpicks into the cake identifying each organelle
Use your computer to type the labels, then attach them to the toothpicks with duct tape before placing them near the organelles they correspond to.
Take photos of your model in cake… and eat it
Method 4 of 4: Make a cell model using plasticine
Step 1. Gather the necessary materials
You will need the following materials to make your plasticine model:
- a small or medium sized expanded polystyrene ball (Styrofoam brand);
- colored plasticine;
Step 2. Cut the styrofoam ball in half
The more detailed your model, the larger your ball should be.
Please note that you will have more working space and flexibility by using a larger polystyrene ball
Step 3. Cover the flat part of the ball with plasticine
If you also want to color the upper part of the ball, you can cover the entire half with plasticine.
Step 4. Model the different cellular elements
For this, use plasticine of different colors. You may find it helpful to have previously printed or drawn a section of a cell to make sure you don't forget anything.
- Use a different color for each organelle. This will allow you to distinguish them from each other.
- Add the organelles to the flat part of the ball using toothpicks.
- Remember to add a cell wall if you are making the model of a plant cell.
Step 5. Label the organelles
Use masking tape to attach the labels to toothpicks or pins and stick them into the styrofoam ball next to the corresponding organelle.