Friday, January 27, 2012

Edible Science Model Projects

Montessori schools are big on tradition, and so am I!  Highly anticipated events in my classroom are something I strive for and at my new smaller, private school (I taught in public school for 12 years) it happens naturally.  Since I teach all three grades of science (6-8) and I'm the only science teacher, all of my students remember the major events or activities of all of the other grades and it creates a buzz of anticipation within the student body when they know another one of the events is coming up.

One of these traditions is an Edible Project.  Last year, the 6th years made models of cells out of Jello with candies for the organelles and other structures.  We made plant cells using brick-shaped "tupperware" containers for the cell wall, with ziploc bags as the cell membranes.  The animal cells were made of the same materials but without the containers.  

Great things about Jello cells:
  • realism: the plant cells had a rigid structure and could be stacked like a brick wall to make plant tissue, and the animal cells were flexible in their ziploc bags--if you layer them in a large bin as they cool, they molded to each other to create something that resembled epithelial cells (each cell was not identical to the next).
  • You could practice sectioning the cells (and teaching the names of sections--longitudinal, saggital, transverse, etc) .  This shows how the diagrams in the text (and everwhere else) are perfect cross sections of the cell and that not every organelle is shown in each section.  It also gives the opportunity show that the same organelle will look very different if you slice it another way.
Bad things about Jello cells:
  • the water dissolved some of the candy and coloring
  • they tasted and looked unappetizing (to most students, not all)
This year, my students wanted to try Cell Cakes.


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