The Model Neuron
- The brain is made up of billions of individual nerve cells
- Students will learn about the structure of a neuron by
Preparation and Materials
- Pictures or photographs of neurons should be made available. Some
can be found here at
"Neuroscience for Kids" at:
- Playdough or modeling clay. Provide about a golf ball-sized amount of
each of 4 different colors.
- Introduction: The brain is made up of about 100 billion nerve
called "neurons"). A neuron has 4 basic parts: the dendrites, the cell
body (also called the "soma"), the axon and the axon terminal.
- Dendrites - Extensions from the neuron cell body that take
information to the cell body. Dendrites usually branch close to the cell
- Cell body (soma) - the part of the cell that contains the nucleus.
- Axon - the extension from the neuron cell body that takes information
away from the cell body. A single axon projects out of the cell body.
- Axon terminal - end part of an axon that makes a
synaptic contact with another cell.
You will be given 4 different colors of modeling clay or
playdough. Build a model of a neuron using
different colored clay for the different parts of the neuron.
- Print out these pages (click on the "print" button of your browser,
and place your neuron in the box below, then label and draw arrows
to the dendrites, soma, axon and axon terminal or your neuron.
Summary and Conclusion
A neuron has 4 major parts: the dendrites, the cell body, the axon and
the axon terminal.
- Construct different types of neurons: unipolar,
bipolar, multipolar, pyramidal cells, Purkinje cells, etc.
- Create a larger cell body and add organelles (for
example, mitochrondria, endoplasmic reticulum, golgi apparatus, etc.).
- Discuss how neurons are similar and different to cells in other parts
of the body (for example, muscle cells).
- Construct neuron models with other materials like fruit or
candy and then eat it.
- Visit sites on the WWW that discuss neurons.