Grade Level: Middle School
Class Dates: One Class Period
Overview: Cells are the smallest units of living matter on Earth. All living organisms are made up of either a single cell or many different numbers and types of cells, and each cell contains special structures with special functions and a cell membrane that controls what enters and leaves.
Objectives: In this fun, hands-on activity, students will use a cookie and other edible materials to create a model of a plant or animal cell. They will learn about the different organelles and parts that make up a cell—and then they will get to eat their creations!
Materials: The estimated material cost for this activity is $20 per class.
Here are the materials needed:
• One large sugar cookie per student
• Cake decorating frosting (at least four different colors)
• Variety of decorating candies (M&Ms, sprinkles, jelly beans, etc.)
• Each student will receive a sugar cookie and choose to
make either an animal cell or a plant cell. (Teachers should distribute
handouts of each for students to refer to while designing their models.)
• While some flexibility in the design is allowed, students must include the following parts:
• Animal cell—Cell membrane, cytoplasm, nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria
• Plant cell—Cell wall, cytoplasm, nucleus, chloroplast, Golgi body
(Students are also expected to include at least two other organelles of their choice in their edible cells, for a total of at least seven parts.)
• Each part of the cell must be labeled. Attach the labels to
the ends of toothpicks with tape, and then place the toothpicks in the correct
positions on each cookie.
• Once students complete their cells and worksheets, and have their cells reviewed by a teacher, they can eat their creations.
Adaptations: Students should be encouraged to exercise their creativity. Icing and candies can both be used to represent different parts. There is no wrong item to use for a specific part as long as everything is labeled properly.
Evaluation: Students should complete the Edible Cell Worksheet. Teachers are then to check the students’ cells for accuracy.
• Cell—The smallest structural unit of an organism capable of independent function
• Cell membrane—This surrounds the cell and allows only certain materials to move in or out
• Cell wall—A rigid membrane that surrounds a plant cell and provides structure
• Chloroplasts—Found only in plant cells, these organelles contain chlorophyll that makes food for the plant cell via photosynthesis
• Cytoplasm—A gel-like material inside the cell that contains water and nutrients
• Endoplasmic reticulum (ER)—This organelle moves materials around in the cell. Rough ER is covered with ribosomes, while smooth ER is not.
• Golgi bodies—Organelles used to package and secrete energy
• Lysosomes—Organelles than contain chemicals used to digest waste
• Mitochondria—Structure responsible for breaking down food and releasing energy to the cell
• Nuclear membrane—Separates the nucleus from the cytoplasm
• Nucleus—An organelle that contains chromosomes with the DNA and directs cell activity
• Organelle—A specialized part of a cell similar to an organ
• Ribosomes—Organelles that make protein for the cell
• Vacuoles—Storage areas for the cell
For More Information:
1. Use caution: No horseplay, practical jokes, or pranks are
allowed in the science classroom.
2. Follow all instructions carefully, and ask your teacher if you do not understand something.
3. Do not touch any equipment until instructed to do so.
4. Do not eat, drink, chew gum, or taste anything in the science classroom.
5. Wash your hands with soap and water before entering and leaving class.
6. Wear safety goggles when instructed.
7. Keep work area neat and clean. Remove all unnecessary materials.
8. Clean work area and equipment when you're finished with the experiment. Dispose of all waste properly.
9. Tell your teacher about any accident immediately.
10. Most chemicals used in the science room are dangerous. Do not touch or smell any chemicals unless told to do so.
11. Students are not allowed to enter any storage closet at any time.
12. Do not remove any supplies from the science classroom without your teacher’s permission.
13. Use care when handling glassware. Never pick up broken or hot glassware with your bare hands.
14. Use extreme caution when using matches, burners, or hot plates. Only light burners when told to do so by your teacher, and do not put anything into a flame unless specifically instructed to do so. Do not leave lit burners unattended.
15. Dress properly: Long hair must be tied back, and no dangling sleeves or jewelry is allowed. Wear closed-toe and heeled shoes. Wear lab aprons as instructed.
16. Memorize the location of all safety equipment and emergency exits.
Adapted from middleschoolscience.com.