What will I need to make a 3D plant cell project for school?

Written by erin ringwald
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What will I need to make a 3D plant cell project for school?
You can even make a 3D plant cell using a freshly-baked cake. (Getty Images)

Making a three-dimensional (3D) model of a 3D plant cell helps you better understand the inner workings of the cell. When making a 3D cell, choose from either edible or non-edible substances. Knowing a few different mediums to use when making your cell lets you decide which method is best for you.

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Cake

A standard sheet cake makes the right shape for an animal cell. Prepare a cake in a 22.5 by 32.5 cm (9 by 13 inch) baking dish following the cake's baking instructions. Once the cake cools, turn it out onto a serving platter. Frost the top of the cake using shop-bought or homemade frosting. Leave the frosting white to make it easier to see cell details or colour it green using food colouring. Alternatively, cover the cake in rolled fondant instead of frosting. Either way, place the cell organelles onto the covered cake.

Gelatin

Another option for an edible plant cell project is using gelatin (like dessert jelly). Gelatin allows you to put the organelles inside the cell instead of on top of it like a cake-based plant cell. Place a 4.5 litre (1 gallon) zip-top bag inside a large square or rectangular-shaped plastic storage container. Fold the edges of the bag over the edges of the container to secure it. Mix a package of light-coloured gelatin with warm water, according to package directions. Then pour the gelatin into the plastic bag. Let the gelatin set for 30 to 40 minutes until firm but not solid. Then, insert the organelles into the gelatin. Let the gelatin finish setting up. Once complete, seal the zip-top bag and remove it from the plastic container.

Edible organelles

Use food from your kitchen to create the organelles for the cake or gelatin version of a plant cell. Use a small plum or large jawbreaker to represent the nucleus. A small red grape is the nucleolus and three raisins make the mitochondria. Use four green grapes to create the chloroplast. Make endoplasmic reticulum to by boiling a lasagne noodle and folding it up. Use six jelly beans for the Golgi body and five chocolate-filled sweets for vacuoles. Sprinkle on sprinkles to create ribosomes.

Polystyrene foam

When you want a cell model that is inedible and will last, use a block of polystyrene foam (like Styrofoam) to create your cell. Start with a 15 by 30 cm (6 by 12 inch) block of polystyrene foam. Use a serrated knife to cut down into the centre of the block 17.5 cm (7 inches) in from the edge. Then, cut perpendicularly to the side of the block. Remove the cut out piece and discard it. Use the exposed inner section of the block to place the cell parts.

Non-edible organelles

Use products found at your local craft shop to create an inedible cell's organelles. Play dough or modelling clay is one option. Create all organelles using the play dough, moulding it with your hands. Then press it to the polystyrene foam. If desired, paint the inside of the polystyrene foam cut out first using acrylic paint. Use a green paint to represent the green nature of plant cells. Other supplies work, as well, to create the organelles. For example, use pom-poms or craft beads in different sizes and colours to create the nucleus, mitochondria and chloroplast. Fold pipe cleaners to create endoplasmic reticulum. Sprinkle glitter on to create the ribosomes.

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