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The Giant Cell


In your classroom, you and your students can make a model of a cell and some of its parts.


  1. marker
  2. white copying paper (use an unmarked side of a waste paper)
  3. safety pins or tape


  1. Use the marker and paper to make signs with the following words: NUCLEUS (1 sign); MITOCHONDRION (4 signs); MEMBRANE RECEPTOR (6 signs).
  2. Tell the class that they are going to make a model of a cell. Choose volunteers to be the various cell parts and pin/tape the signs onto them.
  3. Explain that a cell is like a little city: its parts interact and depend on one another.
  4. Have the students without signs join hands and make a circle. Tell them they are the CELL MEMBRANE or skin of the cell. They hold the cell together.
  5. Have the MEMBRANE RECEPTORS join in at various positions around the circle. They are the eyes and ears of the cell. They gather information and take it to the nucleus.
  6. Position the NUCLEUS in the center of the cell. He/she represents the cell's brain. The nucleus tells the cell's parts what to do.
  7. All the MITOCHONDRIA to walk inside the cell and around the nucleus. They supply energy to the cell. (Think of the mitochondria as "Mighty.")
  8. The cell the children have made is a model of those in their own bodies. If it were a nerve cell it might tell the muscles to flex or relax. If it were a cell on the stomach wall it might be responsible for making acid to break down the food we eat.


Pretend the model you've made is a nerve cell in the arm. Write the following message on a piece of paper: "The hand is touching something hot--pull away!" Deliver it (you have become a MESSENGER PROTEIN) to one of the membrane receptors and tell him/her to take it to the NUCLEUS.

Explain that in the human body, all nerve cells in the arm would get this message at about the same time. The result would be that the hand would pull away from the heat.

What's This?

You are viewing a page in The Franklin Institute's online exploration of the human heart. It is one of many Resources for Science Learning which inspire scientific curiosity.

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