Edible Animal Cell Project Ideas

Kids learn by doing, and an edible animal cell project teaches the components of the cell and where the parts are located. The project also teaches critical thinking skills because the kids come up with a plethora of items to represent various parts of a cell, such as the cytoplasm and ribosomes. There are many variations to an edible animal cell project, and grading should also include the ingenuity of the students for representation of the cell parts.

  1. Base Structure

    • An edible animal cell is a contained organism, and you must decide on the type of container the students can use for their projects. Pumpkins work well because when a wedge is cut out and the inside cleaned, the shell acts as the vessel for the animal cell. Other base structures that work well for animal cell projects include a round single-layer cake or a large cookie baked in a round pizza pan. A bowl of clear gelatin lets you arrange the cell components in a suspended state.

    Cell Components

    • Build the components of the animal cell with various kinds of candies. From string licorice to jelly beans and every confection in between, the many shapes are good visuals for such parts as the ribosomes and vacuole. You may choose to limit the students to fruits for the project or vegetables. Another choice is to build the animal cell from whatever is in the kitchen. The inclusion of all foods gives the kids a greater spectrum from which to choose.

    Building Guidelines

    • For grammar school projects, let the kids work in groups, using the food items each student donated. Have junior and high school students build the project at home and bring in the finished product for display. It is important to provide a handout for the groups so they know what parts of the cell are included in the project and how you want the parts labeled. The students can either create name tags attached to toothpicks or draw a key for the diagram, with each cell part lettered or numbered to match the part names listed in the key.

    Extra Credit

    • Give extra credit for any correct parts put in the display that are not on the mandatory parts list. You can also award points for creativity, neatness and keeping the animal cell parts in proper size perspective. For instance, if you require just the nucleus and a student models an open view showing the interior of the nucleus as well, extra credit is added to the total score. You can also award extra credit to students who correctly name each of the cell parts without the use of a diagram.

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