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How to Make a 3-D Model of a Human Cell

Making a 3-D model of a human cell is a project that often comes up in elementary school classrooms. Designing and creating a 3-D human cell can help children to develop a more complete understanding of cell parts and functions. Here is one way to make a 3-D model of a human cell.

Draw a draft of your human cell. Make sure to include all the cell components so you can easily transfer them over to your 3-D version. Draw the cellular components to size to give yourself a good guideline for the papier mache model.

Blow up a small to medium-size balloon, about 8 to 12 inches in diameter. Purchase a balloon that has a relatively thick skin from an arts and crafts store for best results. This will be used as a base for a papier mache human cell.

Apply papier mache strips to the balloon. You can purchase these strips from a craft store. Soak the strips in water and apply in layers to the balloon. Hold the balloon on a flat surface and smooth the papier mache with your fingertips and the palms of your hands until it is smooth. Overlap the strips when necessary to cover the entire surface of the balloon. Handle gently to avoid popping the balloon. Allow to dry completely.

Paint the surface of the papier mache cell with nontoxic paint, such as tempera, if you are doing an elementary school project. Use your draft to first draw an outline and then add colour to the cell parts. Choose a base colour for the cell membrane. Use other colours to show the interior of the cell and the cellular components. Use construction paper cutouts to give the cell a more 3-D appearance.

Things You'll Need

  • Papier mache strips
  • Water
  • Balloon
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Markers
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes (various sizes)
  • Construction paper
  • Glue
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About the Author

Robin McDaniel is a writer, educator and musician. She holds a master's degree in higher educational leadership from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton as well as a bachelor's degree in elementary education. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in adult in community education. McDaniel enjoys writing, blogging, web design, singing and playing bass guitar.