Make a Backbone Model

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Updated on Aug 19, 2013

This science fair project provides the students with the opportunity to make a model of the backbone, a part of the body all vertebrates possess.In this backbone model,the spools represent the individual back bones of the animal and the buttons represent ten disks between the vertebrae. The pipe cleaner represents the spinal cord. Students learn that animals although alike in many ways do differ in that some have backbones called vertebrae and others lack backbones, invertebrates. This presents a wonderful opportunity to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of having or not having backbones. From this experience, students may investigate the spinal cord and learn about the nervous system. This experiment serves to introduce us to the fact that there are similarities as well as differences which we can observe among the inhabitants of the animal kingdom


How can we make a model of a backbone using household materials?


  • 8 spools
  • 10 large buttons
  • I large pipe cleaner


  1. Gather all the material you will need for this project.You may want to include a camera so that you have pictures of how to make a model of a backbone that you can share at the science fair and with other classes in your school.
  2. Start by twisting one end of the pipe cleaner.
  3. Now thread the other end of the pipe cleaner through a hole in the button.
  4. Now slide the button down the pipe cleaner so the button rests on the twist and does not fall off.
  5. Now slide the spool down the pipe cleaner and continue by alternating with the buttons and the spools until the pipe cleaner is full.
  6. Now twist the end so that nothing falls off and the spools and buttons remain in place.
  7. Great! Now draw a picture of the backbone you have created. Label the bones and the spinal cord.
  8. Write up a short report on how you made a model of a backbone.
Dr. Muriel Gerhard (Ed.D.) is a retired educator with fifty seven years of experience in all aspects of public education. She has been a teacher, principal, administrator, college professor, researcher, grants writer, change agent and science editor. She is the author of several books on education used as college texts. These include the best selling Effective Teaching Strategies with the Behavioral Outcomes Approach and The Behavioral Outcomes Handbook for Teachers and Administrators. Presently she is a consultant in science education and curriculum development, a marriage and family therapist, a newspaper columnist and an author. Her latest book, recently published, is a memoir of sixty vignettes entitled âNow That I`m Dead, I Decided to Write this Bookâ.

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