Cell Unit Study - Week 4 - Cell Walls

Week 4: We built cell walls.

Cell walls are made up of phospholipids, which are a type of fatty acid. They are made from a carbon chain, plus a glycerol, and a phosphorus containing molecule. I learned that from the book The Way We Work by David Macaulay. We are following the Building Life section, page by page to learn about cells.

Last week we put our atoms together to construct molecules. One molecule we made was a carbon chain. It contained carbon atoms (orange gumdrops) linked together in a chain with hydrogen atoms (red gumdrops) attached to each carbon.

Since the cell walls would be very large if we continued to build individual atoms, this week the candy pieces represent molecules. The gummy worms are phospholipid carbon chains, the green gummy bears are glycerol molecules and the white gumdrops are phosphorus containing molecules.

Two phospholipids attach to a glycerol, which attaches to a phosphorus containing molecule to create a fatty acid, the basis for the wall.

When water is added, as in the above photo, it is attracted to the head end.

Mixing water and the fatty acids, the result is a group of molecules in which the tail ends attract each other and the head ends are on the top and bottom. This is a cross section of the cell wall. When many of these fatty acids and water are stacked together they form the cell membrane.

The kids are really enjoying these cell activities and even ask to do science. To see our other cell activities please check out our science page.

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  1. OH that is one we didn't try when we studied cells:) I will have to add it in next time. Great job!!!

  2. How much of it got eaten before it became a cell? :)

    Thanks for linking up to Science Sunday!

    This is a curiosity question (so feel free to ignore it), but does sugar/candy cause problems with Leukemia? The reason I ask is I had a friend with cancer and he was allowed practically no sugary foods because sugar helped cancer to grow. He had a hard time with that because he had a huge sweet tooth.

    1. The kids didn't eat any of the candy. They never do. It definitely doesn't help in Leukemia treatment. Surprisingly enough, sometimes the nurses offer small packets of candy after she receives some of her treatment. She never takes it because I don't allow her to eat eat. Then they will usually give her stickers or some trinket.

      For this project candy just seemed like a convenient thing to work with. It sure smelled good.

  3. I like this activity...I'm sure it did smell good! We wouldn't have eaten all that candy either, but it does illustrate the points well. I haven't heard of that David Macaulay book.
    Thanks for linking at Favorite Resources.

  4. That looks great. I'm very, very tempted to copy it, but I'm worried about my kids eating all the candy! Maybe I'll do it quickly around Halloween, while they're doped up on sugar anyway.

  5. Just a heads up...I featured you today on Look! What We Did! Your post was one of the most popular ones.

  6. I'm so sorry for the late comment, but I LOVE those. Such a great idea. xx

  7. This is a fantastic way to teach about cells! I can't believe that your kids don't care about the candy. We don't do (much) candy around here, but my kids sure wish we did! Thanks for linking this up to Trivium Tuesdays!


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