Rough Science LIFE update: A Giant Cell

One of the features of Rough Science LIFE is a giant model of a cell.

For this build I went scrounging in my Useful Cupboard. A couple of years ago someone had gifted me some plastic drop sheets to use in some of Rough Science’s messier (as opposed to Messier) holiday activities. I tend not to use plastic sheets for safety (they are extremely slippery to stand on) and environmental reasons, so these sheets have waited for a rainy day.

First some calculations: cells come in all shapes and sizes, and depending on what it is could be anywhere from 10µm to 100µm.

(Quick definition: µm stands for micrometres, which is one-millionth of a metre. The funny u is the Greek lowercase letter “mu”.)

The show is looking specifically at plant cells at this point, so (kind of arbitrarily, I admit) I chose 100µm to be the length of the cell. I want the model to be around 1m long, which means it is around 10,000 times the size of a living plant cell. Give or take.
Diagram of a Plant Cell
For now I just want to make the cellular membrane and the nucleus. I cut the dropsheet in half and taped the edges together to make a tube around 1.5 metres long. I used rubber bands to seal the ends. Now to inflate!
Don't do this
See the above set up? The bicycle pump with a hose leading into the giant cell? DON’T DO THIS. After about ten minutes of pumping, and the metal fittings getting burning hot due to Charles’ Law, the model was still a saggy bag on the floor.

Instead, I held one end open and ran up and down the corridor like Darby O’Gill trying to catch a leprechaun.
Gabe and the Giant Cell
Next: making the cell contents.
Giant cell with nucleus