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3D Animal Cell Model

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Author: Beth Touchette

Buildings are made of multiple bricks; you are made of millions of cells. The cell is the basic unit of all living things. The cells in your body vary in size, a single nerve cell can be up to a 1 meter long, but the more typical cells lining the inside of your cheek are .05 millimeters. The cell is made of many important parts, called organelles, that do different jobs

Problem: Make an animal cell model.

Materials

  • A pie pan or round casserole dish
  • Clear or yellow gelatin mix
  • Measuring cup
  • Water
  • Spoon
  • Refrigerator
  • Stove
  • Clear plastic wrap
  • Assorted food items (see procedure)

Procedure

  1. Gather the foods that will represent the organelles your cell. The following table includes a summary of the organelle’s and appearance function and some suggested items. Feel free to substitute.

Organelle

Appearance and Function

Suggested Items

Cell Membrane

Thin film, regulates what comes in and out of cell

Clear plastic wrap that you put between gelatin and dish

Nucleus

Spherical, the control center of the cell

Plum, apricot, or any spherical fruit with a pit

Nucleolus

Involved in building proteins, found inside nucleus

Plum pit or apricot pit

Nuclear Membrane

Thin film, regulates what comes in and out of nucleus.

Skin of fruit

Endoplasmic Recticulum (ER)

Smooth and rough folds and tubes, where  cell materials are manufactured

Red vines or other string-like candy

Mitochondria

Spherical and rod-shaped, provides energy for cell

Raisins

Ribosomes

Small and in clusters, make proteins

Sprinkles

Lysosome

Round, break down waste in cell.

Chocolate chips, Skittles, or other small, round candy

Golgi Body

Stacked layers near nucleus, package materials to be sent out of cell

Folded up Fruit-by-the-Foot

Vacuole

Large and filled with fluid, storage tanks for cell waste

Gumball, or other larger spherical candy

Results

Your 3d animal cell model may not look like typical cell diagrams, but actually building a 3D model will help you visualize and remember the parts of the cell. The gelatin in your cell model represents cytosol. The cytosol is the clear liquid within the cell that surrounds the organelles. Together, the cytosol and organelles in the cytosol are called the cytoplasm. Just like the gelatin, real cytosol has proteins, sugars, and other large molecules in it. 

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