Cells are microscopic organic components that make up all lifeforms. Within cells are various parts called organelles. These organelles each have a unique function, such as ridding the cell of waste or providing the cell with necessary nutrients. Plant cells and animal cells share many of the same organelles. However, there are some distinct differences that affect how a cell model is created. Specifically, plant cells have cell walls, which give the cells a boxy appearance.
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Things you need
- Small square-shaped box top
- Modelling clay
- Activity gel
- Green acrylic paint
- Paint brush
- Pipe cleaners
Paint your box top green. Allow the top to dry for 2 to 3 hours before continuing. The box top will represent your cell wall.
Pour activity gel onto the underside of the box top so that it fills the entire area. Activity gel is available at craft stores. The gel will serve as the cell's cytoplasm. Allow the gel to set for about an hour before proceeding.
Take a large piece of light-coloured clay and flatten it so that it is about one-third the size of the entire cell model. Place this inside the cell to serve as the vacuole. It is best to place the vacuole off to one side of the cell so that it will be easier to fit the rest of the organelles.
Create a flat blue circle for the cell's nucleus. Create a smaller flat purple or violet circle and place it in the blue circle. This is the cell's nucleolus. Place the nucleus with the nucleolus near the centre of the box top.
Fold a blue or light blue pipe cleaner so that it is looks like a squiggle. Place this next to the nucleus so that it is touching it. This is the endoplasmic reticulum. To create the rough endoplasmic reticulum, add another folded blue pipe cleaner and add small round yellow flecks of clay around it.
Make several oval shapes out of green clay. Add some slightly darker green clay balls to the green ovals. These are the cell's chloroplasts. Scatter three or four of them throughout the activity gel.
Take several pieces of red clay and make flat oval shapes. Use a toothpick to create little zigzags within the ovals. Place these throughout the cell to serve as the mitochondria.
Make a small yellow dot about the size of a penny out of clay. Place this within the cell body. This will serve as the cell's amylosplast. Do the same with an orange piece of clay. Place this dot closer to the nucleus. This is the cell's centrosome.
Write the names of each organelle on a small piece of paper. Tape this piece of paper to a toothpick, and place the toothpick in the corresponding organelle. Alternatively, you can write the names of the organelles on a piece of paper and create a key matching the name of the organelle with its corresponding clay colour.
Tips and warnings
- You can alter the colours you use for your organelles any way you wish. However, it is important that each organelle has a distinct colour.
- If you have a limited amount of clay colours, you can try adding food colouring to your clay to create new shades.
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