Academy Curricular Exchange
Columbia Education Center 


AUTHOR:   Patricia (Pat) Brickley, Battle Mtn. Jr. High,
          Battle Mountain, NV.

GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT:   Appropriate for grades 6-10.

OVERVIEW:  Many students have trouble visualizing cells as 3-
dimensional units, containing several different parts, working
together.  As they study pictures in text books, slides and videos,
and look at leaves or their own skin, they often get the impression
that cells are flat, 2-dimensional units.

PURPOSE:  The purpose of this activity is to provide students with a
hands-on activity which will enhance their understanding of the 3-D
characteristics of cells while reinforcing their knowledge of plant
and animal cell structure.

OBJECTIVES:  Students will be able to:
1.  Compare and contrast the structures of plants and

2.  Demonstrate and understand the 3-dimensional aspect of
    cell structure.

3.  Identify the various parts of plant and animal cells.

    Play-doe, food coloring or tempera paints (red, purple,  green,
blue), 1 pair disposable gloves, yarn or undercooked  spaghetti,
pepper, plastic-bubble packing, aluminum foil,  plastic wrap, pencil
shavings, scissors, 1 large knife, glue

Cell structure list and possible materials for each group:
    1.  Cytoplasm -- play-doe (plain - approx. 260g or 8oz)*
    2.  Endoplasmic reticulum -- yarn or cooked spaghetti
    3.  Ribosomes -- pepper
    4.  Mitochondria -- play-doe (purple - approx. 7g)**
    5.  Vacuole -- plastic-bubble packing
    6.  Lysosome -- play-doe (red - approx. 5g)
    7.  Chloroplasts -- play-doe (green - approx. 10g)
    8.  Cell wall -- aluminum foil (approx. 12" X 7")
    9.  Cell membrane -- plastic wrap (approx. 12" X 16")
    10. Nucleus -- play-doe (blue - approx. 20g)
    11. Nuclear membrane -- plastic wrap (approx. 3"X6")
    12. Chromosomes -- pencil shavings

*  Play-doe recipe: This makes about 850g (30oz) - enough
for 3 groups.
1 C soda (salt for baking)     4 t cream of tarter
1 C flour                               2 T oil
1 C corn starch             1-3/4 C water

Stove top method:  Mix and cook until the dough leaves the
side of pan.  Cool on plate with wet cloth on top.

Oven method:  Bake @ 150 F overnight.

** To color play-doe use food coloring or tempera paints.
(Using rubber or disposable gloves is a good idea.)

1.  After studying cell structure, divide the class into
    small groups.

2.  Gather all materials and have them laid out according to
    the number of student groups. (See material list below.)

3.  Distribute materials and lists of cell structures to
    each group.

4.  Inform groups they will be making two cells -- one plant
    and one animal cell.  When they finish, each cell will
    be about the size of a tennis ball.  The first part of
    the class period will be spent making the cell
    structures themselves.  Instruct them to wait before
    putting the cells together until you can explain the
    procedure.  Have group leaders assign responsibility,
    for each cell part, to the group members.  (The cell
    structure list also includes possible materials which
    could be used.  These materials could be expanded or

5.  Have the "cell membrane people" cut the large piece of
    plastic wrap in half and place each piece on the table.

6.  Have the "cytoplasm people"  form 2 balls using the
    plain play-doe or clay.  Lay 1 ball on each piece of
    plastic wrap and press each into a "pancake" about 6".

7.  Instruct them to designate one pancake, "animal cell" 
    and the other "plant cell".

8.  Have members of each group find the supplies they need
    to represent their cell structures, cut, form, fold,
    paste, etc. until their structure is simulated.  Then
    place the finished structures in a pile on the center
    of the appropriate pancake.  (Exception -- cell wall)

9.  When all of the cell parts are completed and in place,
    have someone in each group "gather up" the pancake
    carefully cupping it around its "topping" and seal all
    of the edges together forming a ball.   Next have the
    "cell membrane people" wrap the plastic wrap around the
    cytoplasm and have the "cell wall people" wrap the
    aluminum foil around the plant cell.

10. Depending on the length of time available, cells may be
    set aside for the next class period or each may be cut
    in half with a large knife right away.

TYING IT ALL TOGETHER:  The students are excited to see their parts
in the cell and this leads to an excellent opportunity for students to
share ideas, reasons, and information with the groups and the class.
This is also an ideal opportunity to compare the similarities and
differences of the two types of cells.  I usually pick a couple of the
best ones to be put in the display case for future years.  The play-
doe will harden.  This activity works equally well as a structured,
teacher directed activity or a creative small group or individual
endeavor;  the students' own experience and knowledge are the only

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