Despite the wide variety of plant species in the world, each begins with the basic building blocks contained in plant cells. Plant cell model projects invite students to explore the various parts of a plant cell and examine the roles each structure plays in supporting the life cycle of the plant. Plant cell models are ideal for identifying the ways in which plant cells are fundamentally distinct from animal and human cells.
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Cell Model Crafts
Even young children can explore the structures of plant cells through kid-friendly craft projects. Basic craft supplies like construction paper, yarn, glitter, paint and variously shaped dry macaroni are all you need to create simple models of plant cells with elementary school aged children. Young children are unlikely to recreate accurate models on their own, but a simple reference sheet identifying major cell parts is a suitable resource for creating cell models. Rectangular pieces of construction paper accurately depict the unique shape of plant cells, and pieces of yarn glued around the perimeter of the paper serve to represent the plant cell wall. Painted pieces of macaroni represent a variety of cell structures like organelles, ribosomes and plastids; an ample coating of glitter represents the cell plasma.
More advanced methods of creating plant cell models involve three-dimensional models that represent scale versions of plant cells and their various structures. One of the most straightforward options for creating a plant cell model is to mould one out of crafting clay. Different colours of clay represent various cell parts, and labels made from pins and masking tape identify the various cell parts in the finished product. Another option is to carve a cell model out of pieces of sturdy styrofoam. Styrofoam can be painted to represent parts of the cell structure like the cell wall and cytoplasm, and additional structure are represented from objects like rubber bands, buttons or small rubber balls glued to the foam structure.
Edible Plant Cells
Edible plant cells models are both accurate and fun ways to depict various parts of a plant cell. A classic way to create a plant cell model is to create a mould using clear or lightly coloured gelatin set in a rectangular glass pan. Additional food items like macaroni, liquorice or pieces of fruit placed in the partially set mould are suspended through the viscous liquid to represent various cell structures. A sweet option for an edible plant cell model involves moulding a batch of crispy rice treats into the desired plant cell shape. A cell wall made from dried fruit leather or wide ribbons or liquorice identifies the model as a plant cell. Colourful pieces of fruity candy are suitable representations of organelles, plastids, chloroplasts and the cell nucleus.
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