DIRT ON WORMS!
TIME ALLOTMENT: 3 one hour lessons and 1 two week investigation
SUBJECT MATTER: Life Science, Ecology, Earthworms
Students will be
Worms are a Class Act Educational Guide in association with The-Can-O- Worms stacking worm bins. Viscor Distribution Inc., 12165 Cherrywood Drive, Maple Ridge, BC V2X0B7
Canada Critters, AIMS Life Science Activities for Grades K-6. by Maureen Allen, Debby Deal, Gale Kahn, Suzanne Scheidt, Vincent Sipkovich
Riddles: What is a worm’s favorite punishment? Being grounded. Why couldn’t Batman go fishing? Because Robin ate all the worms. What kind of exercise is good for robins before breakfast? Worm-ups. What did the fish say to the bait? Squirm worm.
The companion website
for Bill Moyers Reports Earth on Edge.
How much soil is
there? This site uses an apple as a tool for seeing what percentage of
the Earth is covered by soil.
A Soil Science Education
Program from NASA
This site has a movie
of the birth of a baby worm and a brief description of the worm’s anatomy
This site looks at
the benefits of having worms in our environment. There is a link to instructions
about how to build a worm bin.
This site uses an
interview with a worm to teach some important facts. http://yucky.kids.discovery.com/noflash
The Pacific Dust Express.
A website that looks at the 2001 dust cloud composed of soil from China
as it drifts around the world. http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2001
A Dust Bowl Site with photos and a brief description. http://www.usd.edu/anth/epa/dust.html
A companion site for the PBS show, “The American Experience: Surviving the Dust Bowl.” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/amex/dustbowl
A Science Inquiry
Lesson about worms with answers to many questions you might ask. http://www.exploratorium.edu/IFI/resources
This NOVA site for
teachers has the instructions for making a worm bin. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/
the National Science Education Standards, Content Standards: K-4 http://www.nap.edu/readingroom
PREP FOR TEACHER
Introduce the video. The students will see a part of America that is very important to us all. It is the Great Plains. Most of our food and much of the world’s food is grown there.
As the earth’s population grows, more food will be needed. Will we be able to meet the need? There might be a big problem that will make growing more food difficult.
We’ll discover the problem and hear one man’s solution.
Art: Draw a
picture of what worms do under the surface of the soil.
Community Connections: Assemble and maintain a worm bin for the school or a community garden.
Define these words as they appear in the video: prairie, herbicide, pesticide, fertilizer, mulch, erosion, subsidy, and yield per acre.
The FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTIONS will be the discussions and clarifications during the pauses. The title of the show is “Bill Moyers Report Earth on Edge.”
START at the introduction and play until you see Africa on a map and hear, “We begin at home.” PAUSE. Discuss how the activities of man affect the earth. Explain that they will see one man-made dilemma; The US is losing valuable topsoil.
PLAY through the early history of the plains then PAUSE. Review that the Great Plains was the best farmland in the world when the pioneers arrived. Review some of the crops shown: grains, sorghum, soybeans, milo, corn. PLAY through the scenes about the Dust Bowl. PAUSE when Moyers says, ”In fact the land didn’t ever completely recover.” Discuss the causes of the Dust Bowl. (massive plowing of the native plants)
PLAY until Moyers says, “This is the quiet unseen crisis of the land here.” PAUSE and review the facts. Every acre loses 7 tons of soil a year. Since the first pioneers settled there, the area has lost 1/3 of its topsoil and ˝ of its nutrients. Make a prediction, “Can anything be done to stop and maybe even reverse this decline?” Ask the students to listen for the changes the farmer has made to stop the problem.
PLAY until after they hear about the excessive use of chemicals. PAUSE. Ask what they heard. No-till farming was defined. It saves time and energy. It creates clods that help control weeds. The stalks act as mulch. Ask how advertising affects farmers? Does it make them want to the products mentioned?
PLAY through the discussion about subsidies. PAUSE and explain subsidies. PLAY through the discussion about water quality. PAUSE. Look at the map again. Point out the river drainage system of the mid-west and discuss the affects of all the soil and chemicals to the water and the Gulf of Mexico. PLAY until the end of the segment on the Great Plains. STOP. Summarize.
Discuss the benefits of prairie grass. It breaks the wind. It stops dust. It helps to clean water. It provides cover, nesting and food for wildlife. They saw a few simple changes made by one farmer that could help to solve the problem.. Do they think those changes could make a difference? How would that happen?
Emphasize that it will take everyone working toward the goal to make it happen. Finally, they saw that when you lose one item in an ecosystem, you disturb the diversity balance, and may lose many other members of the community. Ask if this problem affect the students? Are we members of the earth’s ecosystems?
POST VIEWING ACTIVITIES
1. Set up 5 worm jars. (10 min) Divide the class so each group has
one jar. We will set up 2 demonstration jars and 3 jars for regular worms.
All 5 jars will be set up exactly the same. (Why?) (We’re changing only
Set up: Rinse the jars well. Do not use soap. (Why?). Put into each jar: 10 cm of dry potting soil, and 2-3 cm of chopped vegetable and fruit scraps. Evenly mix both together. Add ˝ cup of grass clippings and top with 10 leaves. Gently place 3 worms into one of the jars. No worms will be in the other demo jar. Label them. In the other 3 jars add: a thin layer composed of a mixture of coffee grounds and brown sugar and put 10 leaves.
Place 4 worms into each of the jars and label. These jars are reserve worms. Spray with water until the jars are moist. Worms need to stay moist because they breathe through their skin. Our lungs must also stay moist for us to breathe. Worms have special glands that secrete mucous to keep their body moist. Make a sleeve for black construction paper that loosely fits around the jars. We will be observing the 2 demo jars for 2 weeks.
In your journal write
the date, the time, the title of this investigation, the materials used
and the procedure for making the jars. (Model this on the board.) When
this is done each student will write a prediction about what will happen
in the 2 jars or what they will look like in 2 weeks. This is their hypothesis.
Daily they will record the date, the time and their observations. At the
end of two weeks they will write a conclusion. Worm observations. (20-30
min) For this section you may collect your own worms or use the reserve
Step 2. Divide
the class into groups of 3 or 4. Each group will gather all materials
except the worms. (hand lenses, paper towels, spray bottles, pencil, worm
observation question sheet) We will make some predictions, observe some
physical attributes of the worms, and record our thoughts and observations
in our journals. Read the worm question sheet. Make your predictions in
your journal before you get your worm. Rinse 2 worms per group in water
that has been standing a few hours and place them on the wet paper towels.
Treat your worms with care and respect. We will not be cutting open any
worms. Observe your worm so you can record results and make conclusions
about your predictions in your journal. Complete the rest of the sheet
by writing your responses in your journal. Clean up.
Step 3. Invite
a zoologist who can prepare a dissection and explain the internal anatomy
and physiology of earthworms.
Step 4. As a whole class exercise, visit these websites and point out what the students can find there.
Make one copy for
every 2 students. Have each take a role and read the interview together.
You may decide to look at other websites or allow your students time for
independent exploration of the sites. The website about the China dust
cloud is quite a current story.
For additional lesson plans and ideas relating to this topic and many others try TeacherSource at PBS Online! You will find activities, lesson plans, teacher guides and links to other great educational web sites! Search the database by keyword, grade level or subject area! Mathline and Scienceline are also great resources for teachers seeking teaching tips, lesson plans, assessment methods, professional development, and much more!
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