Models for science projects

Written by kathryn rateliff barr Google
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Models for science projects
Models of a molecule can range from the very simple to the complex. (molecule image by Vladislav Gajic from

Models are a great way to demonstrate the intricacies of science. Simple materials like pipe cleaners, hard or soft foam balls, dowel rods, balsa wood and cardboard can be transformed into terrestrial or extraterrestrial objects. Some models are simple and easy to put together, and others are a great deal more complex and expensive.

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Volcano Model has instructions for a high school level erupting volcano model. The model uses materials you can find at home or in local stores. Students begin construction with a base and a wire frame for the volcano. The internal construct includes a magma chamber and tubing to discharge the lava. A paper mache and plaster cone creates a frame for the volcano exterior and paint, rocks, and dirt give it a more realistic look.

You can build a working volcano model.
You can build a working volcano model. (small erupting volcano image by sumos from

Tornado Model

There are several ways you can build a tornado model. A virtual model uses a computer program to allow students to control the funnel width and core pressure to create a tornado. The computer generates a tornado based on these two factors and students guess what category tornado they create. Students learn that the higher the core pressure, the more destructive the tornado becomes. Very young students can create a vortex in a pop bottle with just water. Swirling the water at various speeds shows them how the wind, represented by the water, swirls around in a circle and picks up debris as it moves.

Models for science projects
Tornado models help students understand the mechanics of how tornadoes form. (feuertanz image by Roland Marz from

DNA Model

Every living thing is made up of DNA, regardless of whether it is a plant, animal, virus or other biologic entity. Building a DNA strand model can help students understand the complexities of how we inherit traits from our parents, how the units that create DNA are connected and knowledge of the various structures that make up DNA. A two-dimensional paper model can be constructed using different shapes to represent the nitrogen bases and their respective components. Students put the shapes together in the double helix ladder formation to demonstrate the design of the DNA strands. Two long, curled pieces of wire can be used to create a three-dimensional ladder with various colours of beads or clay balls representing the DNA elements strung between the wires to demonstrate the pairing of chromosomes.

DNA models teach the complexity of inherited traits.
DNA models teach the complexity of inherited traits. (adn ? image by G.g1 from

Solar System Model

Science has plans for solar system models. The models can be constructed from locally acquired materials or purchased as a package set. The simplest of the models uses various relative sizes of hard foam balls connected by string to show where the planets are in relation to the sun. This model does not worry about true scale. Planets begin with Mercury and end with Uranus. The most complex model uses true scale to show each planet's relative size and distance from the sun. The planet balls can be mounted on wire to show the size and shape of the orbit patterns.

Models for science projects
Solar system models help us understand our place in the universe. (solar system image by Svetlana Gajic from

Human Body Model

You could choose to create a complete model of the human body or narrow your focus to a single body part. Models of the eyes and ears can be rather simple to create. Muscle and circulation models of the entire human body will be much more complex. "The Anatomy Color Book" by Kapit and Elson and other similar books are useful resources for these kinds of models. The diagrams, labels, and explanatory information that accompany the diagrams can assist in the creation of accurate and colourful models of systems, structures or organs.

Models of the human body teach form and function.
Models of the human body teach form and function. (skelett image by andreas from

Fossil Model

Science has a video tutorial for creating a dinosaur fossil model. The student pushes a plastic dinosaur toy into a pan of very thick mud and allows it to dry enough to hold the dinosaur shape. A plaster casting is then made by removing the toy and pouring plaster of Paris into the impression made by the toy. Once the plaster cast is dry, the mud is washed off and the plaster is painted. A similar process could be used with bones, shells, animal or plant materials to create other kinds of fossils.

Models for science projects
Dinosaur models help us see what these extinct creatures might have looked like. (dinosaur image by Natalia Pavlova from

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