Sample Lesson: Worms I

October, Week 1, Activity 1

Small Group

Video Demonstrations
Activity Details
get ready
Objectives:
  • Create an ecosystem in a bottle
  • Conduct scientific experiment   

Use the Lingo:
  • Worm
  • Soil
  • Experiment
  • Control
Materials: (Provided)
  • Coarse gravel/small rocks
  • Hand lens (one per student)
  • Paper bags (two per small group)
  • Gallon Ziploc bags (one per small group)
Materials: (Not Provided)
  • Two-liter plastic soda bottles (two bottles per small group) 
  • Clean egg shells (two per small group)
  • Water
  • Worms (bait store; ten per small group)
  • Garden soil (not potting soil)
  • Hobby knife or box cutter
Additional Preparation Required: You will make one Experimental and one Control bottle for EACH small group.  
  • Remove the labels from the two-liter bottles.
  • Cut off the top 1/3 of the bottles (best done using a hobby knife or box cutter braced against a table top, laying the bottle on its side on the table and rolling against the blade).  Save the bottle caps.
  • Fill two Ziplocs with garden soil (not potting soil).
  • Divide gravel (so all four bottles will have about 2 inches when you add later)
  • Acquire red worms (a.k.a. "red wigglers" 20-30 worms total) from a fishing bait store or online supplier (estimated cost $3).
Teaching Tip: Be the Best
This is a real experiment! The two bottles are the same except the Experimental bottle will have worms in it.  This allows for observation of specific effects worms have on their environment (compared to when they are not present).  You will be able to observe what happens to different types of material (lettuce vs. plastic bottle caps).  This is the first of four activities about worms and composting.


engage
  1. 1. Science Chant.
  2. 2. Show children worms. Say: Today we are going to do an experiment! It will help us learn about the ways worms affect their environment. An experiment lets us make a prediction or a guess about something, then test whether or not our guess is correct.
investigate
  1. 3. Encouraging students to participate, make one Experimental Eco-bottle (with worms) and one Control Eco-bottle (without worms).  Observe and use words to describe each of the materials:
    • Place about 2 inches of gravel/rocks in each bottle.
    • Place about 3 inches of soil in each bottle.  
    • Crush one eggshell into each bottle.  (Note: For proper pH balance.)
    • Pour water into each bottle until it just begins to appear in the gravel.
  1. 4. Examine worms.  Add worms and lettuce to Eco-bottles.
    • Give each student a worm, and a hand lens to examine and describe what its body looks like.  Describe what it feels like (e.g., soft, moist, etc.)
    • Do not expose the worms to direct sunlight or let them dry out.
    • Add 10 worms to the Experimental Eco-bottle only.
    • Tear lettuce leaves into small (1/2") pieces; place on top of soil and worms in a loose layer.
    • Place one bottle cap (or other plastic item) in each bottle with the lettuce.
  1. 5. Cover the bottles with the paper bags.  Place in a cool, dark area.
  2. 6. Discuss the differences between the two bottles.  Explain that you have created an experiment.  Say: Over the next couple of weeks we are going to find out how worms affect their environment by comparing the bottle with the worms to the bottle without the worms.  We'll be able to see whether the worms affect the lettuce and whether they affect the bottle caps. 
discuss
  1. 7. Say: Today we did an experiment where we created two eco-bottles, one with worms, and one without. We observed our worms and learned about what their bodies look and feel like. We are going to learn how the worms affect their environment!
  2. We will check the bottles each day to see what happens as part of our experiment. What do you think will happen in our bottles? What will be different about the bottle with worms and the one without?(Optional: Keep a record of observations by photos, sketches or written records of student observations.)
  3. What do you think is going to happen to the lettuce? Do you think that anything will happen to the bottle cap? Will it happen in both bottles?
  4. How did your hand lens help you observe the worms? What did you discover about the worms while observing them?
extend
Engage students in conversation about worms and the environment.
  • During outside time, ask students where worms might be, what they are doing, how they are helping, etc.
  • To transition students, ask each student to tell you one fact about worms.
make it work
For Students Requiring More Challenge
  • Ask students to record observations by making daily drawings (or shared writing, etc.) of the changes in the bottles and compare to the drawing from the previous day(s). 
For Students Requiring More Support
  • Some students may have difficulty being close to the worms. Provide pictures from the book, Wonderful Worms, so students who are afraid to touch worms can still participate.   
Activity Demonstration
Teaching Tip: Be the Best
This is a real experiment! The two bottles are the same except the Experimental bottle will have worms in it.  This allows for observation of specific effects worms have on their environment (compared to when they are not present).  You will be able to observe what happens to different types of material (lettuce vs. plastic bottle caps).  This is the first of four activities about worms and composting.


Science
Life
Animals
Earth
Earth Materials