Modeling Limits to Cell Size

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
This investigation provides learners with a hands-on activity that simulates the changing relationship of surface areas-to-volume for a growing cell. By analyzing four sand-filled cubic models (made from heavy paper), learners can find answers to many questions about cell growth. This lesson guide includes fifteen sample questions with answers.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 14 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Duplicated copies of the Cubic Cell Models on heavy, colored paper (Fig.1)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Fine Sand
  • Scale


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Cell Structure and Function
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
    • Number and Operations
  • Physical Sciences
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Deaver, James