How to Create 3D Plant Cell and Animal Cell Models for Science Class

Updated on October 8, 2018
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A step-by-step tutorial for creating 3D plant and animal cell models.
A step-by-step tutorial for creating 3D plant and animal cell models. | Source

What Type of Cell Model Are YOU Making?

Which 3D cell model are you building?

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3D models are a fun, easy way to learn about plant and animal cells.

This hands-on science project is often assigned in middle school science and high school biology classes. Students are typically asked to create a 3D model that includes all of a cell's organelles using either household or edible materials.

Not sure where to begin? You're in luck! Here you'll find inspiration for creative, scientifically accurate 3D cell models made of clay, Styrofoam, Jell-O and everything in between.

This step-by-step guide also includes a complete list of plant and animal cell organelles, suggestions for edible and non-edible project materials and links to educational materials that will expand your knowledge of cells.


Animal Cell Model Inspiration

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How to Make a 3D Cell Model

A Step-by-Step Guide for Building an A+ Cell Model

You don't need to be an award-winning painter, baker or sculptor to create a top-notch cell model — or to have FUN while doing it!

Simply follow the steps listed here and you'll be on your way to an "A" in no time.

Learning Resources Cross-Section Animal Cell Model
Learning Resources Cross-Section Animal Cell Model

Quiz at home or in the classroom with this foam animal cell cross-section model. One half is labeled and the other is not.

 

Step 1: Plant Cells vs. Animal Cells

Plant and Animal Cells Have Different Shapes

First and foremost, you need to decide whether you will create a plant cell or animal cell.

Plant cells and animal cells are shaped differently and contain different parts.

The best way to decide? Take a look at some cell diagrams on an interactive site like CellsAlive.com. The site offers awesome animations of both plant and animal cells with descriptions of each organelle.

Plant Cell Model Inspiration

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Step 2: Edible vs. Non-Edible Models

Do You Plan to Eat Your Cell Model?

Next, you should decide whether you want to make an edible cell model or a non-edible cell model.

  • Edible cell models can be eaten (yum!) and are often made with cake, large cookies, candy, Rice Krispie Treats or Jell-O.
  • Non-edible cell models cannot be eaten and are often made with everyday craft supplies like styrofoam, pipe cleaners, shower gel and/or clay.

There are pros and cons to each type of project. Consider how much money you want to spend, what supplies you already have in your home, your teacher's requirements, and the length of time your project will be on display (edible items may eventually rot, smell, or attract bugs). Weigh your options carefully and choose the project type that is best for you.


Don't forget! If you're building your 3D model for a science class in private or public school, check with your teacher to make sure an edible cell model is ok before you take the time to make it!

Step 3: Parts of the Cell

Plant and Animal Cells Have Different Parts

Now you need to make a list of all the parts, or organelles, you will need to include in your 3D cell model.

☆ Organelles are the "mini organs" found inside every plant and animal cell.

Each organelle has a different function and physical appearance, and together they work to keep the cell alive.

While plant and animal cells share many of the same organelles, including the nucleus, golgi apparatus and mitochondria, there are a few key differences. Check out the chart below to see which organelles are found in only one type of cell!

Cell Parts

ANIMAL CELLS
PLANT CELLS
Cell Membrane
Cell Membrane
Cytoplasm
Cytoplasm
Nucleus
Nucleus
Golgi Apparatus
Golgi Apparatus
Mitochondria
Mitochondria
Endoplasmic Reticulum
Endoplasmic Reticulum
Ribosomes
Riobosomes
Vacuoles
Central Vacuole
Lysosomes
Cell Wall
 
Chloroplasts

Step 4: Materials

What Items Will You Use to Make Your Cell Model?

Here's where the real fun begins! It's time to decide what materials you will use to create each organelle.

Hint! The best materials are ones that already look like the organelles you're trying to create.

For example, the nucleus in any cell is always round so a jawbreaker, bouncy ball or orange would each make a great nucleus in your cell model.

Activity: To power up your creativity, set a timer on your cell phone for 2 minutes. During that time, write down every possible material you can think of. Here's a short list to get you thinking outside the box:

  • Edible Materials: Twizzlers, Skittles, gummy worms, jawbreakers, gum, pretzels, marshmallows, cereal, cake, cookies, Jell-O, icing or fondant, sprinkles, food coloring
  • Non-Edible Materials: Clay, styrofoam, beads, yarn, dry noodles, pipe cleaners, buttons, rubber bands, toothpicks, construction paper, cardboard

Step 5: Build Your Model

Have Fun While You Learn

As you begin building, make sure to start with the base of your 3D cell model. Why? Because you need to know how big to make everything, of course!

Once you've baked your cake, bought your styrofoam block, or sculpted your clay foundation, you can build those beautiful organelles! This is where your creativity can really shine so have fun and don't forget to keep a diagram of the organelles nearby! Having a diagram on hand will ensure that your cell model is not only super cool to look at but also scientifically accurate.

Once all of your organelles are securely attached to the base of your model, label your organelles. Toothpicks and stickers make great labels and they let everyone know what's what on your cell model.

Plant & Animal Cell Quiz

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Are You Satisfied With Your Project?

The time has come to admire the sheer brilliance that is your finished 3D cell model. If you chose to make an edible cell model, it might also be time to break out the forks and spoons. Yum!

Questions & Answers

    © 2011 wildsimplicity

    Have You Built an Awesome 3D Cell Model?

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      • profile image

        Bev 

        3 days ago

        Thank you - this is awesome!

      • profile image

        T56vbyh7mo9 

        2 weeks ago

        We are doing this tookimunhbg

      • profile image

        Lisa 

        3 weeks ago

        It is fun

      • profile image

        bohhhh 

        4 weeks ago

        everyone dont believe it not helping

      • profile image

        bohhhh 

        4 weeks ago

        everyone dont believe it not helping

      • profile image

        skool suks 

        4 weeks ago

        this is not good info

      • profile image

        That's girl 

        4 weeks ago

        Yeah how to build it

      • profile image

        Tim 

        6 weeks ago

        Lysosomes are found in both plants and animal cells

      • profile image

        Ada 

        2 months ago

        This was great last minute help thanks x

      • profile image

        Hell.sk 

        2 months ago

        how to do it

      • profile image

        Alejandra Hernnadez 

        2 months ago

        I love doing these 3D models

      • profile image

        hi 

        2 months ago

        this helped a lot. so much fun

      • profile image

        ben10 univers 

        2 months ago

        i hate this because i dont want to do it again we did it three years ago

      • profile image

        :) 

        2 months ago

        It looks great!

      • profile image

        ugh 

        2 months ago

        I have to do this for a school project and I’m sad yet excited. But I also have an essay and have to present both without looking at my essay... :/

      • profile image

        lolololol 

        2 months ago

        i have this for school project

      • profile image

        Me 

        2 months ago

        Idiot

      • profile image

        lucas poo 

        3 months ago

        this helped

      • profile image

        Jayred Sawchu 

        3 months ago

        this was cool i am a very amazed dude right now man

        coolest thingy ever fam

      • profile image

        Josh 

        3 months ago

        this is cool and lit

      • profile image

        megan abad 

        3 months ago

        need help to make a 3d plant cell and animal cell model project. thanks.

      • profile image

        no-one 

        3 months ago

        yeah not helpful

      • profile image

        Fhjjkmk 

        3 months ago

        Don't have enough time to do this but would be helpful if I had more time

      • profile image

        Kunt 

        3 months ago

        Thanos

      • profile image

        Brewers fan 

        3 months ago

        Thanks!

      • profile image

        (Unsafe Name) 

        3 months ago

        Hellose people and I want you to say that this really helped me and that it really worked, so I think I will get a good grade on this.

      • profile image

        vv 

        3 months ago

        horrible

      • profile image

        dodo 

        3 months ago

        very easy

      • profile image

        you know my name its start with d 

        3 months ago

        hugs

      • profile image

        Your Mom 

        3 months ago

        I made this and threw it at my brother. Very good weapon. Lighting it on fire and sticking needles in it next time. Advised for bullies.

      • profile image

        duck 

        4 months ago

        the quiz was eazy

      • profile image

        Someone 

        4 months ago

        This wasn't very helpful because it doesn't have a how-to or a supply list. Maybe add them next time

      • profile image

        smar nigga 

        4 months ago

        the Quiz easy

      • profile image

        a friend with a partner. 

        4 months ago

        this totally helped us with our idea for possible designs. not with a supply list, which is what i was looking for. perhaps add a supply list or a rough idea? that would help us much more than an idea for a design.

      • profile image

        Zabby 

        4 months ago

        Not helping

      • profile image

        Know your Options 

        4 months ago

        Um... Not very helpful

      • profile image

        Fortnite KIng 

        4 months ago

        This helped thx :)

      • profile image

        Hi 

        4 months ago

        good

      • profile image

        North Carolina 

        5 months ago

        Tahni, just don't overthink it

      • profile image

        Project lover 

        5 months ago

        You can use a round styrofoam ball cut 1/4 out paint it the colors above. And label it with the check list above use strips of paper glued to toothpicks to lable.

      • profile image

        Tahni McNeil 

        5 months ago

        hey if any one can see this can they please help me out. i need to make a animal cell but i don/t know what do use and how to set out my deign project so can ya help me out to plan my design please i need you to reply asap because it is due tomorrow 1:20 please i really need help with this please please please help me (:(:(:(:(:(:(:(: ps: who ever reply first wins 1,0000 millon dollars yay come on first one wins(:(:(:

      • profile image

        ,,, 

        5 months ago

        solid

      • profile image

        kamakaze 

        5 months ago

        this stuff looks super awesome, I can't wait to try it.

      • profile image

        my name is jurema 

        5 months ago

        goooooooooooooooood

      • profile image

        Dallas 

        5 months ago

        this helped a lot thx u and jeff shut up dude

      • profile image

        jeff 

        5 months ago

        this is trash

      • profile image

        Unknown User 

        5 months ago

        This helped me alot

      • profile image

        Savannah 

        5 months ago

        This was some great ideas!!!!!!

      • profile image

        no name 

        5 months ago

        cool thanks

      • profile image

        chloe 

        5 months ago

        thus is helpfull since i have a project due tommorrow but idk what tge labels are

      • profile image

        ANONYMUS 

        5 months ago

        THANKS FOR MATERIAL IDEAS

      • profile image

        Goku palmore 

        6 months ago

        thank you very helpful in school

      • profile image

        Pin 

        7 months ago

        awsome

      • profile image

        Jesse Ruiz 

        9 months ago

        I have 1 weekend to do my/a 3D animal cell project due on May 1st.

        ON A TUESDAY!!!

      • profile image

        Ana Vasquez 

        10 months ago

        i have a cell project due tomorrow

      • profile image

        F+ 

        11 months ago

        I got an f+ on my project because they found out that I copied one

      • profile image

        Lil mama 

        12 months ago

        This was alright... it was great i guess. /:

      • profile image

        norma schmidt 

        12 months ago

        i hadnt started the project yet but im positive that i will succeed due to the help ive got.im in level 9 and i really want to get a A+

      • profile image

        School Girl 

        12 months ago

        This really helped me get an idea of what I was going to do.

      • profile image

        joe 

        14 months ago

        AWESOME

      • profile image

        Elaine 

        15 months ago

        I love these projects so much I acaullly use one and copyed it for my project thank you for your hard work to copy.

      • profile image

        15 months ago

        Thanks

      • profile image

        Rochnaelle 

        16 months ago

        thank you very much .I really appreciated because that really help me with my project and i will do the same thing as you guys did and i will tell you what i got for my project.Thank you and thank you very much ,God bless all of yall in here and hope you have a nice day.Reply and like my Comment for me and that really going to help me .

        Love

      • profile image

        Mohamed 

        16 months ago

        Hi

        Thanks

      • profile image

        sajid 

        16 months ago

        This is great i will get an A+ for sure!

      • profile image

        faith 

        17 months ago

        so cool

      • profile image

        logan 

        17 months ago

        i dont get this

      • profile image

        me 

        17 months ago

        this is confusing

      • profile image

        Bri 

        17 months ago

        Awesome! Thanks so much!

      • profile image

        Lisa and McKynzye 

        17 months ago

        Thank you for these great ideas! They will truly be beneficial to my granddaughter as she creates her own plant or animal cell.

      • profile image

        molly 

        17 months ago

        this is very helpful to me thank you so much

      • profile image

        sneha 

        20 months ago

        nice info

      • profile image

        Nuraz 

        23 months ago

        Thanks this helped a lot with my science project on 3d cell models.

      • profile image

        dejag3646@duarteusd.org 

        2 years ago

        u did nt show what stuff u need to use for a science project

      • profile image

        butt 

        2 years ago

        hey very weird how you found that, but it helped me so much. thank you!!!!

      • profile image

        anna 

        2 years ago

        niceeeee................

      • profile image

        Natalie 

        3 years ago

        This really helped, but my science teacher is strict and doesn't allow edible cells, which I really wanted to do

      • profile image

        marshall 

        3 years ago

        awesome! I love it!

      • profile image

        LeoValdez 

        3 years ago

        This was so much help with my thingy for high school! Calypso helped me make it though :p ALL DA LADIES LUV LEO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :p

      • profile image

        Heyz_u 

        4 years ago

        I followed this and got an A+ on my project thanks so much!!

      • profile image

        LaLaMan 

        4 years ago

        I need more info

      • profile image

        aaron 

        4 years ago

        the cake is a lie

      • profile image

        yo mama 

        4 years ago

        hello I will eat your cake

      • profile image

        maxwell 

        4 years ago

        can u help me , please

      • profile image

        timothy 

        4 years ago

        I love this site thank you for making it

      • profile image

        madison Archer 

        4 years ago

        well you see i have this project at my school about this animal and plant cell in 3d and i want to get a good grade on my first ever three d model of it and i want you the viewers of this message to send me some good and good grade models and if you have designed one and you got a good grade on it send me a pick of it

      • profile image

        maggie3000 

        5 years ago

        I am trying to build a cell model of a melanoma cell. I can't find any images that show what the cell looks like. Any ideas?

      • OUTFOXprevention1 profile image

        OUTFOXprevention1 

        5 years ago

        Great cell models! Thanks for the lens

      • happy-birthday profile image

        Birthday Wishes 

        5 years ago from Here

        Not yet... Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful lens!!!

      • Stephanie36 profile image

        Stephanie 

        5 years ago from Canada

        I remember making an edible plant cell out of candy in grade 9 science. One of the best science projects ever :)

      • profile image

        LearningWithMeaning 

        5 years ago

        What a fun project! We are studying cells right now and I definitely plan to add an edible cell model to our list of activities. Another resource that you might like is PunFlay's "Cell and Cell Structure" app for the iPad. It is interactive, informative and presents the material in way that 5th-8th graders can understand.

      • sbaiju profile image

        sbaiju 

        5 years ago

        for the first time i came to know that 3d cell model is available, Thanks for the info

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        5 years ago

        aww!....so that all cell model about:D....really interested;)

      • profile image

        GetAcneFree 

        6 years ago

        Great ideas! I'll keep this in mind for when my oldest starts to learn about cell models.

      • wildsimplicity profile imageAUTHOR

        wildsimplicity 

        6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

        @anonymous: Hey SarahStar. I'm happy to see this guide was helpful for you! :) I'm sure your teacher will love the project. I had a blast making cell models with my students when I taught middle school science.

      • wildsimplicity profile imageAUTHOR

        wildsimplicity 

        6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

        Hi Rabbit. What exactly do you need help with? If you're building a non-edible plant cell like Emily above, I provided a detailed foundation for your project in my response to her comment. If you're putting together a different sort of cell model, let me know and I will help. But remember, your own creativity is an essential learning tool. Looking for a guide that tells you exactly what to use for each organelle won't really teach you about the cell.

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        6 years ago

        @wildsimplicity: This did not help as I still can't find anything.

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        6 years ago

        Wow! thanks allot i will try this for my science project but on paper. that's an amazing idea! Hope my teacher likes it!

      • wildsimplicity profile imageAUTHOR

        wildsimplicity 

        6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

        @anonymous: Hey Emily. If you need to create a non-edible plant cell model, why not use a square Tupperware container as your cell wall. Line it with green Play-Doh (represents the cell membrane) and fill the container with a transparent, green-tinted shampoo (represents the cytoplasm). Once you've put those elements together, use household objects like beads, bouncy balls and ribbon to illustrate the rest of the organelles. Hope that helps! :)

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        6 years ago

        i hate thisit did not help at all i need to make a non edible plant cell but there are no simple ones to make

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