We watched earthworms in biology class today. Sound dull? Not at all - the students thoroughly enjoyed it. What do worms do when set on a piece of wax paper on a desk? Try to leave, of course, but how? How do they move? What do they do on dry paper towels? Or wet paper towels? What happens when you put an acetone-dipped swab at each end? How do they smell? WHAT is that yellow stuff? Students were given a sheet to guide their observations and questions, but there was much exploration outside of the parameters of the guide sheet. The only rule was to be kind to the earthworm and not to harm it.
Why did I decide to spend classtime watching worms? To give the students something to make observations about, observations that could lead to questions, that could lead to experimentation or study, that could lead to more observations, that could lead to more questions... see where I am going with this?
What else? The curriculum dictates that I next teach human anatomy and then ecology, a sum of ten chapters of the textbook, over the next six weeks. And we watched earthworms today.
Earthworms are an important indicator of the health of garden soils, contributing to its biological, chemical, and physical health. They convert organic matter into humus and make nutrients and minerals more available for plant uptake, and aerate the soil. Soil sustains all life on Earth. Earthworms also form the base of many food chains. Thus, ecology. Earthworms are also organisms with musculature, circulatory systems and nervous systems. Thus, anatomy.
Watching worms was a fun way to move from the evolution unit and begin brainstorming future study.