3D Animal Cell Project

Cells are the building blocks of a living organism. The cell is the smallest functional part of an animal. It is so small that it cannot be seen with the naked eye; you need a powerful microscope to see it. Learning about the animal cell and its various parts is an important part of biology lessons for kids. An easy way to help children learn about the animal cell and its various parts is with a 3D animal cell project. DIY science projects and science experiments for kids help children visualize their science lessons and understand them better.

In this article, explore:

What is an Animal Cell?

A cell is the basic structural and functional unit that makes up the tissues and organs of an animal. The animal cell is a eukaryotic cell, meaning it has a true nucleus and organelles inside a membrane. Each of the organelles inside the cell is a specialized structure that performs specific functions. 

Before you attempt a 3D animal cell project, learn the different parts of the animal cell. Learning about the different components of the animal cell and where they’re located helps the child learn to label them accurately. This will ensure your 3D model of the animal cell looks more accurate. Here is a list of the different parts of the animal cell:

  1. Cell membrane: The cell membrane or the plasma membrane is the outermost layer of an animal cell. The thin barrier is made of protein and fat and is semipermeable, meaning it allows certain materials to enter the cell and blocks others. The cell membrane acts as a protective layer and regulates the movement of materials to and from the cell.
  2. Cytoplasm: This is the gelatinous liquid inside the cell wall. It houses the other organelles inside the cell. The cytoplasm is mainly made up of water, proteins and salts.
  3. Nucleus: The nucleus, which is also called the central unit of the cell, is the organelle that contains the cell’s genetic material. 
  4. Nucleolus: The nucleolus is another specialized organelle that is inside the nucleus. The nucleolus is in charge of synthesizing ribosomes.
  5. Nuclear Membrane: This is the thin membrane that surrounds the nucleus and separates it from the rest of the cell.
  6. Vacuoles: Vacuoles are asymmetrical sacs found inside the cell membrane. This membrane-bound organelle is used to store food and nutrients or waste.
  7. Mitochondria: Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. This membrane-bound organelle breaks down sugars, fats etc., through a series of chemical reactions to release energy that powers the cell. 
  8. Endoplasmic Reticulum: Endoplasmic reticulum is a set of flattened, tube-like sacs that produce, process and transport proteins synthesized by the ribosomes. There are two types of endoplasmic reticulum: rough and smooth endoplasmic reticulum. The rough endoplasmic reticulum has ribosomes attached to its surface, whereas the smooth endoplasmic reticulum doesn’t have ribosomes.
  9. Ribosomes: If a cell is a factory, the ribosomes are the manufacturing unit. Ribosomes synthesize all the proteins in the cell.
  10. Golgi Bodies: The Golgi bodies or Golgi apparatus, which look like a stack of flat circles, folds, sorts and packages proteins received from the endoplasmic reticulum. 
  11. Vesicles: Vesicles are membrane-bound spheres that help transport large molecules that cannot cross the cell membrane. The contents in the vesicles are excluded from the rest of the cytoplasm.
  12. Lysosomes: Lysosomes are vesicles that act like the waste disposal/recycling department of the cell. The digestive enzymes present in lysosomes break down large molecules like organelles, carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins into smaller units for the cell to reuse. 

3D Animal Cell Project: How to Build a 3D Model of an Animal Cell?

Have you ever wondered about the different organs in our body and how they function? It is because of millions of cells that perform specific functions. A DIY animal cell project where kids build a 3D model of an animal cell helps them learn more about the lesson. It helps the child understand better the different parts of the cell and its functions. 

Aim of the Project

The aim of this 3D animal cell project is to build a working model of the animal cell. Building a 3D model of an animal cell helps reinforce your child’s understanding of the lesson.

Things You’ll Need

Here is a list of all the things you need for this 3D animal cell project:

  1. Styrofoam ball
  2. Modeling clay in red, blue, green, yellow, orange, white and black colors
  3. Toothpick flags
  4. Markers
  5. Mini googly eyes
  6. Toothpicks
  7. Steak knife
  8. Scissors
  9. Round cookie cutter
  10. Glue


  1. Cut one quarter part of the styrofoam ball using the steak knife. 
  2. Roll a small amount of red-colored modeling clay into a flat circle. Use the cookie cutter to ensure that you have a neat circle. Glue this to the center of the styrofoam ball. Ensure that half the circle is vertical, while the other half lays flat. This is the nucleus.
  3. Take a small amount of black-colored clay and roll it into a small ball. Place this ball in the middle of the red circle and pin it into place with a toothpick. This is the nucleolus.
  4. Roll the white clay into a circle and cut 3 flat strips that are ½ inch wide. Fold the strips so that they resemble ribbon candy and place them on the flat part of the styrofoam ball. These are the Golgi Bodies.
  5. Roll a piece of orange-colored clay in the shape of a tiny baguette to make the mitochondria. Use a toothpick to make lines and poke holes in the clay. Pin this to the left of the nucleus. 
  6. Fold a strip of green-colored clay-like ribbon candy and glue mini googly eyes to the sides of the strip. Place it to the right of the nucleus. This is the rough endoplasmic reticulum.
  7. Glue a few googly eyes in a few places in the styrofoam ball. These are ribosomes.
  8. Roll some more green clay into thin strips, fold them like ribbon candy and place them on the styrofoam ball. This is the smooth endoplasmic reticulum.
  9. Roll the blue clay into 2-3 small balls and flatten them slightly. Place them on the styrofoam ball to represent lysosomes and vesicles.
  10. Roll the yellow clay into a flat circle and cut an asymmetrical shape from it. Place it on the styrofoam ball to represent a vacuole.
  11. Now, write the different parts of the cell on the toothpick flags and place them next to the organelles to label them.
  12. Your 3D model of the animal cell is ready.

For more science projects, activities, games and worksheets that make learning fun, check our kids learning section.

Frequently Asked Questions on 3D Animal Cell Project

What is a 3D Animal Cell Project?

This 3D animal cell project is a 3 dimensional working model of an animal cell with the different parts labeled.

How does building a 3D model of the animal cell help kids?

The 3 dimensional model of the animal cell helps children visualize the different parts of the animal cell and learn about its functions.