Sixth-grade Cicely Tyson students engineer model cells


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EAST ORANGE, NJ — asked with engineering a model of a cell, sixth-graders at Cicely Tyson Middle School in East Orange pulled out all their creative skills and went to work.

Science teacher Nabila Mack said, “This cycle, students were exploring living things and how they’re made of cells. They also learned how to classify organisms as unicellular or multicellular. As a culminating activity, they were required to create a model of a plant or animal cell that a third-grader would understand.”

Students were also required to adhere to a rubric and respond to a digital portfolio task.
Mack said, “The project required students to complete the work as part of their homework activities. I wanted to give students ample time to gather and collect their materials and stay on task.”

Mack added that the excitement was palpable, as students clamored around their classmates’ projects and admired their efforts. The materials used by students included gorilla glue, Play-Doh, tape, cardboard, fabric, toothpicks, paper, plastic plates, beads, rubber bands, foam and crafting wire.
Commenting on her takeaway from the project, Brittany Bryant, 11, said, “Working on the project contributed to my understanding of the world. Now, when I see plants, I know all the main cells in it. I can connect my project to plants.”

Similarly, Francis Ulysse, 11, said, “Now I see what’s going on in an animal and plant’s body. Every living thing on this earth has a working cell.”
Ryan Miller, 11, added, “I learned about the different parts of a plant cell and how the different organelles function. The finished product was so fun, exciting and amazing.”

Lastly, S’mya May, 11, said, “This project helped me understand that trying to teach the younger students about any upper-grade activities we work on feels good. We are becoming teachers to students while still learning ourselves. It’s like the students becoming the teacher.”

She added, “I enjoyed working on this project. It was messy but fun. I got to see some other good ideas that fellow students from all over did.”
Commenting on the initiative, Principal John English said, “The ultimate goal of an educational platform is that students can learn and grow. So anytime a teacher can get students to be hands-on and creative, while still learning in the process, well, it is great to see.”