Cell Structure and Function
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Barbara J. Baker Doolittle West Primary School
521 East 35th Street
Chicago IL 60616
Discuss scientific advances brought about by the Mars Surveyor Space Program
which impact on daily life, especially any animal and plant cell movements.
Identify laboratory apparatus like microscopes, slides and coverslips; use the
microscopes to view cells and organisms.
Learn vocabulary pertaining to cells.
Draw and color what is seen under the microscope.
This lesson could be used for grades 3rd-5th.
Vocabulary: cell membrane endoplasmic reticulum
cytoplasm golgi bodies
Newspaper articles about the Pathfinder landing on Mars. Microscopes, slides
and coverslips, flowers and onions, posters of enlarged animal and plant cells,
plant and animal cell component labels, cartoon posters of 3 types of cells and
various strands of human hair, Elodea specimen and pond water (Elodea is a
commercially available alga). This is a list of materials for each student in
the class with the exception of microscopes: posters of enlarged animal and
plant cells and cartoon posters of Paramecium, Euglena, and Amoeba; lemon
gelatin dessert mix; l pint (125-ml) resealable plastic bag; quart bowl; large
1. Classroom discussions about the Mars Space Program.
2. Articles on the Mars space program read aloud in class followed by role
3. Locating articles that discuss possible fossils of cells found on Mars.
4. Using a slide to observe Elodea specimen under the microscope.
5. Observing what type of movement the specimen is making.
6. Flagellar, ciliate, and amoeboid motion will be looked for under
7. Predict the condition of hair by observing a strand under the microscope.
8. Determine which end of the hair strand was attached to a live cell.
9. Gather some pollen from a flower, place it on a slide, and observe the
pollen under the microscope.
10. Draw the cells you see from items 4, 8, and 9 above on a sheet of paper;
color the cells.
11. Observe the same slide 30 minutes later or the next day to see what changes
12. A cooperative team will use a small picture of the animal cell that is
labeled with the parts of the cell to identify the same parts on the
enlarged poster of the animal cell that is not labeled.
13. The other cooperative group will place and paste the parts of the plant cell
on the enlarged poster of the plant cell using the small labeled picture of
the plant cell as a guide.
14. Each student will make a World-Class Cell Model.
a. Have an adult helper mix the ingredients for the gelatin dessert
according to the instructions on the box.
b. Allow the gelatin to cool to room temperature.
c. Pour the gelatin into the resealable bag, seal the bag, and place it in
d. Set the bowl and bag in the refrigerator and chill until the gelatin is
firm (about 3 to 4 hours).
e. Remove the gelatin from the refrigerator and open the bag.
f. Using your finger, insert the grape into the center of the gelatin
g. Reseal the bag.
h. Place the bag of gelatin on a flat surface such as the kitchen counter.
Observe its shape.
i. Hold the bag over the bowl as you gently squeeze it (the bowl is used
in the event that you squeeze too hard and the bag opens). Observe the
shape of the bag as you squeeze
15. Thin layers of onion cell skin will be prepared, placed on slides, covered
with coverslips, and observed under the microscope.
16. Write a rap or poem concerning the structure and/or movement of cells.
1. Students will share the articles on Mars with role playing.
2. Students will take a multiple choice quiz on the hierarchy of the
organizational levels of living things. Below is an example of testing
students on knowing the difference between cell, tissue, organ, system and
body. You may rewrite it leaving cell off each item.
Directions: On the quiz below one list would be in a correct order if
you were to write organ in the blank. Which list is that?
a. cell, tissue, system, body, ______
b. cell, tissue, ______, system, body
c. ______, cell, tissue, system, body
d. cell, ______, tissue, body, system
3. The nature of movements of cells in the human body will be discussed.
4. The labeled posters of plant and animal cells will be read aloud.
5. A simple model of a cell with 3 parts will be made.
a. Each student will understand that the plastic bag represents the membrane
of the model cell.
b. Each student will properly name the pale color of the gelatin dessert as
the grayish jellylike material cytoplasm, that fills the cell.
c. Floating in the gelatin is a grape the represents the nucleus.