Activity Overview

Another challenging way to get students to start to think about how adaptations allow specialized cells to function effectively is to get them to design their own specialized cell. This activity is best taught before the students have learned about specialized cells in detail, but after they have looked at basic cell structure. Students will really be able to demonstrate creativity and knowledge of the functions of cells in completing this activity.

Students should be given a particular function, such as carrying an electric signal from one part of the body to another. Students will then design a cell, then compare their diagrams with the specialized cell diagrams already included on Storyboard That. This would be a great time to review the structure and organelles of basic animal and plant cells so they can include these in their design.

In the activity instructions given to students, the function of carrying a message from one part of the body to another is used (a nerve cell). You can change these easily to include another function based on the types of specialized cells you will be teaching!


Scaffold the activity by changing the template to give students a diagram of a human body cell. Students would then be able to add on to the template instead of creating the cell from scratch.


Have students create a brand new cell for the body which would be used for superhuman activities: for example, a cell that allows Superman to fly or allows Spiderman to produce spider webs.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

There are many cells that have special adaptations and features to allow them to carry out specific tasks effectively. Design your own cell that would allow electrical messages around to be sent around the body. Spend a few minutes thinking about what adaptations and features of a cell would do this effectively.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Use a series of shapes and props to design your cell.
  3. Use textables and arrows to label and describe any organelles, adaptations or features.
  4. Save often!

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-12

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual or Group


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Designing Specialized Cells
Design a cell for the specified function.
Proficient Emerging Beginning
The storyboard clearly illustrates a cell that is well suited for the specified function.
The storyboard illustrates a cell that is well suited for the specified function, but is difficult to understand.
The storyboard cell does not clearly illustrate a cell that is well suited for the specified function.
Identification of Components
The cell diagram is clearly labeled showing how it is well suited to its function.
The cell diagram is labeled.
The cell diagram is not labeled.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out.
Work shows some evidence of effort.
Work shows little evidence of any effort.

More Storyboard That Activities

Specialized Cells

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