How to Build a Model of an Animal Cell

Learning to build a model of an animal cell shows kids how the building blocks of organs and tissues work. Cell models aren't too complicated to create, so this is a good project for elementary school students. This animal cell model is made with pantry items and requires a minimum of adult supervision. It is also completely edible!

Materials

  • Gelatin (Light colors, such as lemon or unflavored, work best)
  • Water
  • Spoon
  • Microwave or stove
  • One-gallon Ziploc bag
  • Various fruits and candies. Some suggested items are raisins, gummy worms, gum balls or gum drops, mandarin oranges, M&M's, dried fruit, sprinkles and hard candy. The items need to be heavier than gelatin so they sink into the mold.
  • Refrigerator

Directions
The gelatin represents the cytoplasm of the cell. Follow the directions on the gelatin package, but only use about ¾ of the amount of water in the recipe. This will make the gelatin denser.

Place the 1-gallon Ziploc bag in a sturdy bowl or container. Pour the cooled gelatin into the bag. Remember to leave room for the additional components.

Put the gelatin mixture into the fridge to partially set, about one hour.

Remove the gelatin from the refrigerator and add various additional items as the cell components. Gummi worms make great ribosomes. Jelly beans can be mitochondrions. Use something large and round, like a big gumball, to make the nucleus. The Ziploc bag serves as the cell membrane. Study illustrations of animal cell structures and look for foods that resemble these structures to create something unique.

After adding the cell components, return the gelatin to the fridge so it can set fully. When it is fully set, it is ready to be examined and devoured. 

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