How to Build Your Own 3D Model of a Human Ear

Written by dawn marcotte
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How to Build Your Own 3D Model of a Human Ear
The outer ear is the only visible part of this complex organ. (ear image by cico from

The human ear is divided into three parts, the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. The outer ear includes the ear canal as far as the eardrum. The middle ear begins at the eardrum and contains the three bones of the ear. The inner ear contains the cochlea, tubes and nerves that connect to the brain. Review an ear diagram carefully before beginning construction.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Diagram of ear
  • Modelling clay – seven colours cup each
  • Plastic knife
  • Glue
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Styrofoam sheet

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  1. 1

    Assign a colour to represent each part of the ear. Include the cochlea, semicircular canals, bones, Eustachian tube, eardrum, ear canal and outer ear.

  2. 2

    Roll the cochlea colour into a long snake shape 6 inches long and approximately ¼ inch in diameter. Curl the snake in a tight circle to create a snail shape. Leave ½ inch of one end of the "snake" extended. This will attach to the semicircular canals. Mold the semicircle canal clay into several loops as shown in the ear diagram. The semicircle canals should be about the same size as the cochlea.

  3. 3

    Form the three bones of the ear as indicated by the diagram. The bones should be much smaller than the cochlea. Set the bone shapes aside. Form the eardrum and set aside. Divide the clay for the Eustachian tube into two sections. Roll the first section flat, using most of the clay. Roll the rest of this colour into a short snake shape no more than 2 inches long. Place the ear bones and semicircle canal on top of the flat Eustachian tube area and align with each other as shown in the diagram. Do not press into the clay. Cut away the extra clay of the Eustachian tube so it is still visible, but outlines the bones, semicircle canal and extends where the nerve will be attached later. Attach the cochlea to the semicircle canals and the rest of the Eustachian tube as shown in the diagram.

  4. 4

    Attach the eardrum as indicated in the diagram. Roll the clay into a snake formation to make the outer ear canal. Shape the final colour of clay to mimic the outer ear. Attach the outer canal to the eardrum and the outer ear to the canal.

  5. 5

    Glue the parts together as needed to hold them in place. Cut the pipe cleaner into two sections, each 3 inches long. Press one end of each pipe cleaner into the semicircle canals. Add glue to hold in place. Allow glue and clay to dry overnight. Place the finished model onto the styrofoam sheet and glue in place for display.

Tips and warnings

  • The white background of the styrofoam creates a contrast so the model is more visible.

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