Science Project Topic: Celiac Disease

by | G+ Amy Leger

Inevitably one time or another, our kids are going to have to do a science project in school. I had no idea it might happen this early however. Not for my kids– yet.  This time we’re talking about my niece. Avery is in fifth grade and had to come up with what I would consider a tough project which included exhibits, poster board and yes – a bibliography! Luckily Avery chose to research celiac disease.

Avery’s dad (my brother) was diagnosed with it recently and of course her cousin Emma has had it for years. But through her research she has learned the whys and hows of celiac, versus just the explanation – “They’ve got celiac disease, they can’t eat gluten”.

Getting a Closer Look at “Villi”

One of the most challenging parts, my brother told me, was creating a visual way to demonstrate what happens when gluten is toxic to the gut. So they decided to make cross-sections of healthy villi and damaged villi. Using two “Koosh” balls and two sections of a PVC pipe, they went to work. My brother said he felt a little like McGyver as he found ways to get the torn apart ball to stay on the pipe.

Healthy "Villi" left; Unhealthy "Villi" right

Healthy "Villi", Left; Damaged "Villi", Right

Here’s the finished product. It is not only visual, but interactive. You honestly can’t help but put your hands on the insides to feel the “villi”.

The rest of the project involved a display board that wasn’t complete yet (so I couldn’t see it) a paper and a snack. The paper must have been about 12 pages long – yes along with a bibliography (I swear I didn’t learn that until at least 8th grade).

Avery interviewed me for the project, asking me questions about the gluten-free lifestyle, overall health of my children, and recalling what it was like when Emma was sick. It helped her offer a nice personal perspective to the project.

With any luck this project will be a winner in more ways than one – first of course would be Avery getting a good grade – but just as important, educating many more people about the disease, how doctors test for it and it’s treatment. Great job!

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5 Responses to “Science Project Topic: Celiac Disease”

  1. Then what exactly did they do with the “villi” I also am doing a science fair project on celiac disease, and i am struggling with the idea on how to represent the villi. This somewhat gave me an idea, but any more info would be appreciated!

  2. Thank you! This is a great visual and helps me see what my body goes through since I may have celiac disease.

  3. My son who is now in 5th grade and was diagnosed last year is interested in doing a project on this as well. He must have a hypotheses and I am stumped as to how he can just explain it without proving a hypotheses. Ideas would be great, as he wants to start simple and expand on the project for 6th, 7th and 8th.

  4. Debbie, I think celiac is a GREAT topic for a science project. If I come up with any ideas on a hypothesis I will let you know!


  1. Science Project: Celiac Follow up

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