In Virginia, my 5th graders have to know the basic parts of a living animal cell (nucleus, cytoplasm, cell membrane, vacuole) and their functions. In class, I have them do analogies to compare the parts of a cell to the parts of a school and the parts of a mall - it really gets their minds thinking about how such unlike things can be similar based on their functions. Likewise, this project asks students to pick either a futuristic city, medieval castle, a computer, or their house and compare the parts to a cell. This project sheet also serves as a rubric and itemizes how each point is earned or deducted (I'm working hard with my kids on following ALL directions carefully). 1/2 of the project is illustration and the other 1/2 is writing, where they must detail how the parts are similar based on their functions. I usually assigned this project one week before the due date and require the kids to work independently on this, but you could adjust to make it in-class, partner, etc. For middle school students, you could expand this to include more cell features, instead of just the four I mentioned above. I do require my students to research their given topic before beginning - if they choose medieval castle, then I expect to see factual information about the parts of a medieval castle (not just fictional things). If they choose their home, then the illustration part should be blueprints of their home, and I expect them to research how blueprints are properly drawn, etc. The kids LOVE the chance to be creative and pick something that fits their interest level while also showing me their knowledge of cell parts and functions.