Traveling Nanoparticles Model

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This is an activity (located on page 3 of the PDF under Nanosilver Activity) about diffusion of small molecules across cell membranes. Learners will use gelatin to represent a cell and dye to represent molecules to model how small molecules such as nanoparticles can penetrate living environments. Relates to linked video, DragonflyTV: Nanosilver.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 7 days

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

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


Materials List (per group of students)

  • unflavored gelatin
  • brownie pan
  • circular cookie cutter
  • petroleum jelly or cooking oil
  • blue food coloring
  • blue RIT dye
  • methylene blue (from a fish or pet store)
  • 3 aluminum pie pans or equivalent
  • ruler
  • cupcake sprinkles, small candies, or jellybeans


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Bioengineering/Biomedical Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Cell Structure and Function
    • Ecology
      • Human Impact
    • Human Body
      • Health and Nutrition
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
      • Rate
    • Representation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemistry of Life
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Risks and Benefits
    • The Scientific Process
      • About Inquiry
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
      • Technology and the Environment

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DragonflyTV


  • All rights reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2008

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 741749