EDISON, NJ -- This year's cell model project by the sixth grade at The Wardlaw+Hartridge School in Edison came with some familiar interpretations of organelle functions and some new ones. The students were asked to prepare a model plant cell but to use items for the organelles that resemble the function of that cell part, rather than focus on its appearance. And of course, many models came prepared with the AA battery representing the "mighty" mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell. 

It's hard to beat such a perfect interpretation as it also simply looks like a small rod shaped organelle that provides the cell with energy. And the tried and true UPS truck representing the golgi body that ships packages (of proteins) to various parts of the cell and solar panel that represents the chloroplast gathering energy to make food for the cell. But this year brought some new creative ideas as well. 

For example, a game controller to represent the nucleus (controller of gene expression), and gauze a semi-permeable fabric was a great cell membrane. There were a few great interpretations for the cytoplasm this year, such as Styrofoam and oobleck (cornstarch and water), as both can surround and support the organelles of the cell. Many students tied their themes of the ribosome and nucleolus, as the nucleolus makes the ribosomes. 

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One student had Keva wooden planks for ribosomes because they build things, like ribosomes build proteins and a tree represented the nucleolus because it makes wood. Another used Legos for the ribosomes and a Lego man for the nucleolus for similar reasons. The students are also required to write an essay explanation for the project and present it to the class, as it is so important to be able to communicate science. 

“The best part of the project happens three years later when the freshmen come by to tell me how much they remember about the cell,” said Andrea Barnett, Science Department Co-Chair and Middle School teacher.

The Wardlaw+Hartridge School (1295 Inman Ave., N. Edison) is Central Jersey’s premier PreK-12 independent school. The campus is located near the Scotch Plains border and just five miles from downtown Westfield. It is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational day school that prepares students to lead and succeed in a world of global interconnection. Wardlaw+Hartridge provides an educational atmosphere characterized by academic challenge, support for individual excellence, diversity, and a familial sense of community.

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