MANCHESTER – Charged with building a model of a cell for their life science course, seventh graders at St. James School started with logical materials: a cake and graham crackers.
Class members were asked to construct a three-dimensional model of either a plant cell or an animal cell using items of their choice – such as candy, pasta, buttons, string or foam – to represent the cell organelles, or parts. The project had to include a written report detailing each part of the cell, and students had to demonstrate thorough knowledge of their model in an oral quiz.
Chris Connelly and Chris Phelan made a stunning representation of a cell using a cake with graham crackers placed around the outside to represent the cell walls. Frosting on the cake represented the cytoplasm, and a cut-open whoopie pie with a piece of Gobstopper candy placed within formed the nucleus and nucleolus. A Hostess Twinkie depicted the vacuole, and Laffy Taffy was shaped to form the golgi apparatus. Other tasty-looking parts of the cell included several green Spree candies for chloroplasts and a section of Hershey bar for the mitochondria.
Several other seventh graders also made edible models, but many students chose to use Styrofoam as the base for their cells.
“The variety of models and the enthusiasm of the class were just tremendous,” said middle school science teacher Mary Jane Plante. “Students were judged on their creativity and accurate representation – relative to size and shape – of the various organelles.”
She said that despite the fact that their work was being graded, “the kids really enjoyed the project, and it helped them really understand the various parts of the cell.”
Principal Patricia Kanute said that the strong science curriculum is one of the school’s many strengths.
“It is projects like this that helped the St. James seventh-grade class to perform at a 12th-grade equivalency in science on the IOWA standardized tests last year,” she said.
Chris Phelan said he had fun creating a cell. “I enjoyed being able to make a cake with anything I wanted. Chris Connelly and I enjoyed thinking about the various candies we could use to represent the organelles and then putting it all together,” he said.
After students had completed their oral quizzes, the class celebrated their hard work by eating a few of the edible creations.
St. James School, located at 73 Park St., serves over 400 pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students from 20 different towns in the greater Manchester area.
Information is available at www.saintjamesschool.net or 860-643-5088.