Cell Unit Study - Week 5 - Cell Structure

Week 5: We built the structural support system of the cell.

We are continuing to follow David Macaulay's The Way We Work as a guide for our cell activities. Cells have structural support systems just like the bones that support our bodies. They keep us from being blobs. Cell support systems are made from three main components.

Microtubules - Represented by pipe cleaners inserted into plastic straws
Intermediate Filaments - Represented by yarn
Actin Filaments - Represented by two strands of embroidery floss

We began by inserting the pipe cleaners into the straws to create the microtubules.

One end of each of the microtubules (pipe cleaners) was attached to a circular pipe cleaner.

The opposite ends were attached to a second circle.

The outward pushing force of the microtubules was then counteracted by the actin filaments. They were tied so that the two circular structures were pulled together to hold the cell in a spherical shape.

The intermediate filament (yarn) was woven around the microtubules to hold the cell in shape.

All of the components of the structure have a bit of flexibility which allows them to be squished or change shape when they are inside our bodies.

For the Kids Friday Science Sunday


  1. I love this. We are studying the cell again soon, so I will make this. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Very elaborate models! I bet they were fun to play with when they were finished, too.

  3. I didn't know David Macaulay had a Way We Work book..... Now I'm trying to think if you've brought it up before.

    Thanks for linking up to Science Sunday!


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