This lab is designed for girls in grades 3 - 8. Some girls younger
than 3rd grade may also be able to understand this lab. For the
younger girls, only the main parts of the cell should be discussed.
The lab should start with a 10-minute discussion on what a cell
is, and then proceed to the activities. For girls who are unclear
on the concept of alive, the discussion should be interrupted with
the Is it Alive? activity.
Cell Study: Teacher Notes
"Cell Study" activity worksheets.
Supplies (for a class of 30 students):
- 30 Living or Not? worksheets (pdf file) (for younger girls)
- World of Cells Poster
- 30 Cell part color and assemble sheets (for younger girls)
- 30 Parts of a cell (pdf file) (for younger girls)
- 15 scissors (for younger girls)
- 15 glue sticks (for younger girls)
- Colored Pencils (3 boxes) (for younger girls)
- 15 Cell building kits (for older girls)
- 30 Parts of a cell, advanced (pdf file) (for older girls)
- 30 pencils
- Cell poster (animal and plant)
- Cell as a factory picture or overhead transparency
- Animal cell model
- Plant cell model
The cell is the smallest unit of life. All living things are made
up of cells. They are too small to see except under a microscope.
Some living things consist of just one cell like bacteria. Others,
such as tiny pond plants and animals may contain several hundred.
Large organisms like the rhinoceros or a pine tree are made of millions
and millions of cells.
What is Alive?
Life is defined as something that has three properties:
take in energy and process it
- Reproduction: able to reproduce
Using these three properties, is a rock alive? How about a tree?
Try the optional activity -- Living
Types of Cells
There are many different types of cells. Each cells shape, structure,
and contents allow it to do a specialized job and contribute to
keeping the whole body alive. For example, in humans we have muscle
cells, blood cells, bone cells, nerve cells, and skin cells among
many others. (See ‘World of Cells’ Poster) However,
even with this large variety of cells, the majority of cells have
the same basic components or organelles.
Dr. Kunkel of Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc graciously provided
the images in the World of Cells poster. They are all copyrighted
by Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc. These images and others can
be seen on his website at http://www.denniskunkel.com.
Parts of a Cell
(Use the cell poster and the cartoon plant cell when discussing
A cell is like a factory. Within each cell are many small structures,
called organelles, each of which performs a dedicated function.
Five major organelles of all cells are:
In addition, all plant cells have a cell wall
that gives the cells their shape.
- Nucleus: It is a spherical organelle
that is often in the center of the cell. It contains information
to run the cell. It is the brain of the cell.
- Cell membrane: A semi-permeable
membrane surrounding the cell. It selects what enters the cell.
It is the cell’s traffic cop.
- Cytoplasm: Semi-fluid medium
between the plasma and nuclear membranes. It is the jellylike
substance within the cell that contains the organelles.
- Vacuole: A membrane-bound sac
that stores food and waste. It is the cell’s warehouse.
- Plastid: This organelle contains
pigments that determine the color of the cell. Cytoplasm is
one type of plastid. It contains chlorophyll.
Activity 1: Make a Cell
For younger girls, hand out the Parts
of a Cell sheet and the cell parts picture. The girls can color
in the different organelles, cut them out and then glue them onto
Activity 2: Building a Cell
For older girls, hand out the Parts
of a Cell (Advanced) sheet. Give each team of girls a plant
cell model building set. Have them build the cell. Go around the
room and have each team point out one organelle on their cell.
Activity 3: Comparing Plant and Animal Cells
Have each team set the built plant cell aside for a moment. Give
each team of girls an animal cell model building set. Have them
build the cell. Using the 2 cell models, discuss the differences
between the plant and animal cells. Have the girls find the differences
on their two models.
For more information:
Teacher Resource Center:
Cells for Kids at kapili.com: http://www.kapili.com/c/cell.html
ThinkQuest interactive tour of the cell: http://library.thinkquest.org/3564/
Cells alive! at http://www.cellsalive.com
An in-depth explanation of the cell, complete with real photos:
Take a fly-through tour of the Virtual Cell: http://www.life.uiuc.edu/plantbio/cell