We’re all heading back to school this week as I share two popular Science Fair projects – how to make a 3-D Plant Cell Model and how to make a 3-D Animal Cell Model. Almost every student has to construct a 3-D cell model at some point, so be sure to bookmark these tutorials. First up is how to DIY a 3-D Plant Cell Model. Older children and teens will be able to DIY the cell model on their own, but younger kids will need a helping hand.
To make a 3-D Plant Cell Model, you will need:
- STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam:
- ½” x 12” x 18” sheet
- 2-1/2” ball
- Acrylic craft paint in pea green, aqua, bright pink, purple and white
- Craft foam (foamie) sheets or felt in green, blue, yellow, black, red and orange
- Thick, white craft glue
- Low-temp glue gun
- Optional: toothpicks and white paper for labels
- Tools needed: Scissors; ruler; marker; Xacto® knife or box cutter; serrated knife; bar of soap or old candle; stiff paintbrush; two rubber bands; optional: ¼” hole punch
Caution: Young children should not operate a glue gun or use a serrated knife!
To make a 3-D Plant Cell Model:
Note: You will want to frequently refer to the labeled photo as you construct your 3-D Plant Cell Model.
1. Using the ruler and a marker, trace the following pieces on the ½” x 12” x 18” foam sheet:
- Two, 2” x 12” strips (sides)
- Two, 2” x 8” strips (ends)
- One, 7” x 12” rectangle (bottom)
2. Using the ruler and Xacto knife or box cutter, cut out the pieces. (Hint: Be sure the blade is new for smoother cuts.)
3. Paint the cell walls:
- Cytoplasm (top surface of the 7” x 12” bottom) – pea green
- Cell membrane (interior sides of the 2” x 12” and 2” x 8” sides, and ¼” along the top edge of the four sides) – aqua.
- Let paint dry thoroughly.
4. Create the nucleus:
- Wax the serrated knife with an old candle or bar of soap. Cut a small slice from the bottom of the 2-1/2” ball so it will sit flat and not roll.
- Stretch two rubber bands around the ball, dividing it into four equal quarters. Be sure the four sections are equal and that the cut side is on the bottom.
- Draw a line along the rubber bands marking one of the quarters. Remove the rubber bands.
- Cut along the marker lines and cut away a quarter section.
- Using your finger, make a depression at the center of the cut-away section to fit the marble.
5. Paint the nucleus exterior purple and the interior (cut-away section) bright pink.
6. Assemble the cell walls:
- Place the 7” x 12” bottom paint side up.
- Glue the 2” x 12” sides to the base, with the cell membrane facing in.
- Attach the 2” x 8” end pieces with the cell membrane facing in.
7. Glue the marble into the center of the nucleus. (The marble represents the nucleolus.) Glue the nucleus in the model. Refer to photo for placement.
8. Cut out the following cell parts from different colors of craft foamies or felt:
- Chloroplasts (green): Four, 1-1/2” long ovals
- Mitochondria (blue): Two, 1-3/4” egg shapes
- Vacuole (yellow): One, 5” – 6” pear shape
- Ribosomes (black): 25, ¼” circles. (Optional: use a ¼” hole punch to make the circles.)
- Golgi body (red): One, 12” x 1” strip. Form the strip into several loops and glue loops together using low-temp glue. Place the looped structure onto the remaining red foamie sheet. Trade the insides of the loops on the foamie. Cut out these pieces and set aside. These will fill in the loops when you assemble the cell.
- Endoplasmic reticulum (orange): Three, 12” x ½” strips.
9. Assemble the parts of the cell:
- Chloroplasts, Mitochondria, Vacuole and Ribosomes: Refer to the photo and glue in place.
- Golgi body: Glue the looped strip in place first, and then fill in the loops with the coordinating pieces.
- Endoplasmic Reticulum: Fold the strips to create loops around the nucleus. You might need to cut the longer strips into shorter strips to work the loops all the way around the foam ball.
10. Paint the exterior cell walls white.
11. Optional: Label the parts of the cell. Print names of cell parts, cut out, and attach to toothpicks.
Phew, it’s been many years since I’ve had to look this closely at the parts of a cell, and I’m feeling smarter already! Did you ever have to make a 3-D model of a cell? Or has your child made one?
See you Friday when we make a 3-D model of an animal cell.
P.S. This model is very cool, however, I cannot guarantee its accuracy, or that you’ll get an “A”. Please be sure to double check this information with your text book and teacher!