Edible Animal Cell Project With Candy

Ingredients for a delicious science project.
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An animal cell is a complex unit containing many more subunits known as "organelles." Each organelle has a specialized task to perform within the cell. Making a three-dimensional model of an animal cell with candy helps you gain an understanding of cell anatomy while leaving you with a tasty project to eat when you are done.

Research

To begin your edible animal cell project, you'll need to find a diagram of an animal cell depicting each of the individual parts and where they are located within the cell. An animal cell consists of a nucleus in the center surrounded by rough and smooth endoplasmic reticulum, vacuoles, a Golgi apparatus, mitochondria, lysosomes, ribosomes, microtubules and a centrosome containing two centrioles, all of which are contained in cytoplasm and encased by the cell membrane.

Ingredients

Use a clear plastic or glass bowl or a clear plastic bag to represent the cell membrane, which will contain everything else in the cell. For cytoplasm, the gelatinous liquid that fills the cell, use gelatin.

For the rest of the cell contents, try to find a candy shape that best matches each part of the cell. Try sprinkles for ribosomes, a hard ribbon candy for the Golgi body, jelly beans for lysosomes, a gumball for the centrosome, folded fruit roll-ups or gummy worms for endoplasmic reticulum, chocolate covered raisins for vacuoles, shoestring licorice for microtubules and gumdrops or orange candy slices for mitochondria. Use a stone fruit cut in half to represent the nucleus -- the pit is the nucleolus and the skin is the nuclear membrane.

Procedure

Prepare a box of gelatin according to the package instructions. Clear gelatin is most accurate but you can use the flavor of your choice if you want to actually eat it later. Pour it into your bowl or plastic bag when slightly cooled and chill it until it is partially set but still liquid. Once the gelatin has reached a thickened but soft stage, you can add the candy to the cell without it melting or sinking to the bottom. Arrange your candy components and fruit nucleus according to your diagram of an animal cell and press the candy partway into the gelatin. Continue to let the gelatin set until it becomes firm.

Evaluation

Create a key or diagram to accompany your project, indicating what each candy represents. Ask yourself how accurate your model is and how the scale of each item compares to an actual cell. Take pictures for posterity and, lastly, see how it tastes.

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