How to Make a 3-D Animal Cell Model

Written by jeremy cato
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How to Make a 3-D Animal Cell Model
Every cell in this person's body is like its own miniorganism. (bodybuilder"s body image by NiDerLander from

Though the cells in your body are too small to be seen without a microscope, each one of those cells is remarkably complex and contains many tiny parts, called "organelles," that allow it to function. A common project for children in elementary and middle school is the 3D model of the animal cell. You can put a twist on this project by making your own 3D animal cell model---out of cake.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 2 boxes of cake mix
  • 2 large mixing bowls
  • Electric hand mixer
  • 2 bowl-shaped cake pans, 8-inch diameter
  • Large, serrated knife
  • 2 containers of fluffy, white frosting
  • Package of food colouring
  • Large rubber spatula
  • Box of fruit rolls
  • Small bottle of white nonpareil cake decorations
  • Small package of candy-coated chocolate candies
  • Small package of large gumdrops
  • Butter knife
  • Small bag of pretzel or potato sticks
  • Small bag of pull-apart liquorice twists
  • Small box of oval-shaped, candy-coated jelly candies

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  1. 1

    Prepare both boxes of cake mix in the mixing bowls. Pour the cake batter into each of the bowl-shaped baking pans. Bake and allow the cakes to cool.

  2. 2

    Remove both cakes from the pans. Use the serrated knife to level off the tops of both cakes. Spread a 1/4-inch thick layer of frosting on the top of one of the bowl-shaped cakes. Place the other cake upside-down on top of the frosted layer to present a 3D, spherical shape. Cut the top, upside-down, bowl-shaped cake in half with the serrated knife and remove it. Now, you should have a round shape with a large opening like a Pac Man-shape. This is the body of your cell. Reserve the cut piece.

  3. 3

    Reserve 1/2 cup of frosting, and set it aside. Colour both frosting containers with the food colouring in whatever colour you choose. Frost the entire cake, including the cut interior, with both containers of the frosting.

  4. 4

    Shape a tennis ball-sized, round piece from the remaining cake scraps using the serrated knife. Cut a hole large enough to fit this piece in the centre of the interior of the large round cake and place this piece inside. Tint the frosting that you reserved in a different colour than the colour used to frost the large, round cake. Frost the round, piece in the centre. This piece is the nucleus.


  1. 1

    Remove three of the fruit rolls and unravel them. Sprinkle one of the rolls with the white nonpareils and press them lightly into the roll. Fold this fruit roll accordion-style by 4-inch intervals. Place this folded fruit roll around the nucleus. This is the rough endoplasmic reticulum. Fold the other fruit rolls in the same manner and place them separately in the open area of the interior of the cell. These are the smooth endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi body. Also sprinkle a few more of the white nonpareils around the interior of the cell model. These are the free ribosomes.

  2. 2

    Place several of the candy-coated chocolates in various areas around the interior of the cell model. These pieces will represent the lysosomes and peroxisomes of the cell. Cut three of the gumdrops in half with the butter knife and scoop out the interior of these gumdrops. Place these in various areas of the cell model. These are the vacuoles.

  3. 3

    Place three pretzel or potato sticks on the cell near the nucleus. These are microtubules. Cut two, 1-inch pieces from a liquorice twist and place them on the interior of the cake. These are the centrioles. Lastly, place five or six of the oval-shaped candies in the interior of the cell model as mitochondria.

Tips and warnings

  • The bowl-shaped cake pans required from these can be bought at hobby stores and cake decoration stores, as well as some big box stores. If you cannot find them, then use two oven-safe metal bowls.

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