From the impossibly large to the impossibly small, our God designed it all. But it can be hard to study and observe the characteristics of objects at either of these extremes. That’s why we create models to help us out. And how much more exciting is it if our models are something we like to eat? In this activity from the BJU Press Science 3 textbook, we’ll create an edible cell model.
Materials for an Edible Cell Model
- Cell model printable
- Clear plastic cup
- Measuring cups (1 cup and ½ cup)
- Fruit strips
- Gelatin powder (light colored or clear)
- Ice cubes
- Hot water
- Gummy candies (optional)
- Heat 1 cup of water to boiling or steaming. This can be done in a microwave or on the stove. In the bowl, combine the hot water and gelatin powder and stir until the powder dissolves.
- Have her measure out and add ½ cup of ice and stir until it melts. Cold water would also work, but the gelatin will need time to cool before step 4.
- Have your child line the cup with the fruit strip to represent the cell membrane. It should touch the bottom of the cup all the way around. This will start our cross section of a cell. Have her answer the questions in the printable as she goes.
- Have her add the gelatin to the cup with the fruit strip to represent the cytoplasm. Make sure the gelatin is cool or cold. Only add enough gelatin to go to the top of the strip. Since you may have enough gelatin to make more than one cup, feel free to make several models. Another model may come in handy if you decide to do the optional portion.
- She will need to chill the gelatin cup in the refrigerator until the gelatin is no longer a liquid. This will take 4–6 hours. Putting it in the freezer for an hour before moving it to the refrigerator for an additional 2–3 hours will help it set more quickly.
- Have your child push the gumball into the gelatin to represent the nucleus. Any round candy will also work.
- Leave the cell model in the cup. The mingling of sugars from the fruit strip and the gelatin may cause the fruit strip to liquefy, so leaving it in the cup will keep it from completely dissolving.
- On the printable, have your child draw a diagram of the cell model she has created, label the parts, and color it.
- Have her explain why models are useful and what each part represents.
Optional: Take It One Step Further
Ask your child how a plant cell is different from an animal cell. What in her cell model could represent the cell walls? The cup makes a good cell wall, but cell walls aren’t the only things that are different in plant cells. Another difference is the chloroplast, which you can represent by adding a gummy candy beside the gumball. We used Fruit Gushers in our plant cell model.
If you prepare your models in the morning, these would make an excellent dessert for after dinner. Your child can share what she learned about cells with the rest of the family and explain how her model works.
Let us know how your cells turn out. We’d love to see them! Please share photos on Facebook or Instagram, and tag us with @bjupresshomeschool.