Most people find the human brain mystifying, so it should come as no surprise that there is little age-appropriate information for young children about the inner workings of the brain, brain cells and proper brain care. Here, then, is a project you can work on with young children--an edible brain cell model. Perhaps it will inspire the children, and their parents, to learn more about this most fascinating human organ. The models are easy to make, inexpensive and, it is hoped, delicious.
Find a picture of a brain cell, in this case a neuron, and put it where you and the children can view it as a reference.
Use a cookie for the brain cell body. Work on a paper plate to keep the model edible and make clean-up easy. Cover the cookie with a generous amount of white frosting, representing the cytoplasm, and smooth the frosting to about 1/4-inch thick with a plastic knife. Cytoplasm is the jellylike substance that fills most of the cell.
Place the green candy in the centre of the frosted cookie to represent the brain cell's nucleus.
Cut two of the red liquorice strings into quarters. Position the pieces around the top edge of the cookie to form the dendrites--the branched filaments that receive most of the nerve signals from other neurons. Press the liquorice pieces into the frosting with the tip of the plastic knife.
Center the uncut piece of red liquorice about 1/2 inch above the lower edge of the cookie and press it into the frosting to represent the brain cell's axon, which is a fibre-like structure that carries outgoing messages. from the nerve cell.
Slip the candy bead over the dangling end of the liquorice axon to symbolise the synaptic terminal, where neurons connect. Slide the bead far enough up the liquorice to carefully fold the bottom 1/4 inch up; ease the candy bead over the top edge of the folded liquorice to hold it in place.
Clean up sticky fingers and surfaces with damp paper towel.