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Our lessons available for download now:

Earth Science
-Inside Earth
-Identifying Minerals
-Dinosaur Traces
-Star Clock

Life Science
-Cell Study
-Human Puzzle
-DNA Whodunit

Computer Science:
-Trajectory Lab

Physical Science:
-Making Paint
-Bubble Prints
-Speed Fizz
-Bridge Building
-Forcing Gravity
-Gears & Gizmos
-Simple Machines
-Solar Energy
-Switch On
-Dying for a Tan

Cell Study

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.
The cell is the smallest unit of life.

Cell Study: Teacher Notes
Print the "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
Background Information:
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:
  1. Metabolism: take in energy and process it
  2. Reproduction: able to reproduce themselves
  3. Growth

Using these three properties, is a rock alive? How about a tree? Try the optional activity -- Living or Not?

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 the following.)
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:

  • 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.
In addition, all plant cells have a cell wall that gives the cells their shape.

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 the cell.

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: http://web.jjay.cuny.edu/~acarpi/NSC/13-cells.htm

Take a fly-through tour of the Virtual Cell: http://www.life.uiuc.edu/plantbio/cell
Programs and Partners :

The Science Enrichment Program
Rozeanne Steckler, Ph.D. -- Director of Education -- NACSE
1148 Kelley Engineering Center -- Oregon State University -- Corvallis, OR 97331
Phone: 541-737-6601 -- FAX: 541-737-6609 -- steckler@nacse.org

The official webpage of the Science Enrichment Program © 2005