To view animal cells in their true size, students need to use a microscope. However, students can create their own larger-than-life models that demonstrate the inner components and working of an animal cell. There are a variety of projects students can use to create these representations. Working with Jell-O and other bits of fruit and candy can create an animal cell replica that students can enjoy first in the classroom, and then on their taste buds.
Use lemon Jell-O because it is nearly see-through; if you use darker colors, you will not be able to see the parts of the cell.
Follow the instructions on the lemon Jell-O box. Use ¾ of the water that the recipe calls for; this will help the Jell-O firm faster and hold the parts of the cell in place. Mix the Jell-O completely.
Pour the cooling Jell-O into a large, sealable plastic bag. Make sure the Jell-O does not fill the bag completely; you will need room to add the parts later.
Seal the bag and place it in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes. The Jell-O should be partially hardened.
Insert pieces of candy and fruit into the Jell-O to represent the internal parts of the animal cell. The teachers at the Enchanted Learning website recommend using a plum to represent the nucleus and nucleolus, and other food like jawbreakers and raisins to represent the other parts of the cell.
Reseal the bag and place it back into the refrigerator until it hardens completely; the amount of time needed to harden will vary depending on the temperature of the refrigerator. When the Jell-O has hardened completely, you can transport the cell without the parts moving around.
- jelly image by Christopher Hall from Fotolia.com