Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Other Kind of Cell Project

Yes, we’re still working on the school projects. Last week it was the prison cell diorama; this week we’ve moved on to my son’s animal cell model. This post must have at least some useful information for creative types, moms, and even writers about children with dreaded school projects. In case you’re rushed for time, I’ll get right to a couple of points:

1. You can not glue two pieces of plastic together and expect them to be watertight.

2. Hand sanitizer is flammable.

The above mentioned model could be made of any material. That kind of artistic license can be trouble.

My son thought it would be cool if the model were squishy and lifelike. Our first thought was to glue two circles of plastic together and fill it with gel. I bought a giant bottle of hand sanitizer, and my son gathered up household items like marbles and crayons to make the parts of the cell (try to remember studying things like vacuoles and mitochondria).

He wanted to use modeling clay or silly putty for one part, so we tested how these would hold up in the gel. It turns out hand sanitizer turns both modeling clay and silly putty into a terrific representation of vomit.

Next we discovered we couldn’t glue the pieces of plastic together. I should know this already. I should. BUT (and here’s where it gets fun) you can melt them together with a hot iron.

One sticky detail - we realized we'd have to melt the last part of the circle after the cell was already filled with the hand sanitizer.

Alcohol based hand sanitizer + very hot iron = ?????????

Did you know hand sanitizer has a flash point of 69 degrees Fahrenheit? Don’t worry, we decided not to find out the hard way what would happen if we ran a 140 degree iron over an alcohol based squishy cell. After only a few minor mishaps that required scraping plastic goo off the iron, here’s the water-filled finished product:


Do you think he’ll get extra credit if we donate one giant bottle of unused hand sanitizer to the classroom?

16 comments:

msprimadonna67 said...

Very impressive project!

Rena said...

Wow, that looks great. And the story about making it is just as interesting!

Ara Burklund said...

I'll keep that in mind about hand sanitizer's low flashpoint. Hate to say it, but I know that info's going to come in handy someday. Great looking project!

Kim Kasch said...

You are one clever woman - mom, artist.

Bish Denham said...

Fantastic!

Lilfix said...

Where were you when my Son needed these school projects done...grin...These are great...

ICQB said...

OMG! Terrific cell!! Wow. How fun that must have been putting it together.

Loved the FYI: Hand Sanitzer is fammable.

These dioramas and projects actually make me homesick for school projects. My kids are in college now so school projects have been replaced by requests for money. Not quite as fun.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

That is wicked awesome looking--and I thank you for the head's up on the hand sanitzer. Who would've guessed?

MG Higgins said...

That looks really cool. Now I'll always think of this when I use hand sanitizer.

Kelly said...

Lessons learned!
I bet the teachers look forward to your kids' projects! It looks cool!

adrienne said...

As ubiquitous as hand sanitizer has become, that did seem like a handy piece of information! Although from what I've read since he turned in the project, it's not that easy to ignite (also good to know). Still better to play it safe... :)

LW said...

This is very clever…


Louise

sruble said...

That turned out really great! I never would have thought of ironing the plastic together, or that hand sanitizer is flammable if you add an iron (although it makes perfect sense, given the alcohol content). Water seems like the perfect choice.

Your kids are lucky they have a crafty mom to help them with their projects!

sruble said...

p.s. what is all the stuff in there? Just curious.

adrienne said...

Stephanie - Let's see...there's an orange bouncy ball for the nucleus - surrounded by a piece of sponge, some marbles, pieces of crayon, a red plastic ball, clay,and some tiny glass beads.
He put his first test sample in the freezer, so we also discovered a fun way to make ice packs!

As for the gel and the hot iron, I suspect you'd need an actual flame for it to ignite, but I'd rather not test it...

sruble said...

Cool! Thanks for sharing what's inside :)