Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Worm Farm: Learning by Looking

"Today we are doing an interesting experiment," explained Ms. Flaherty, our head worm farmer.  We are going to see how much we can learn just by observing.  Does anybody know what that means?"

"Looking," offered one of the kindergarteners in Ms. Breneus's class, and she was exactly right.

Before the kids took an up-close-and-personal look at the red wiggler worms in their worm farm, Ms. Flaherty read them a book to explain more about what they would be looking at.  The kids learned that worms have no eyes, no ears, no legs, no arms, no lungs, but that they are still very well suited to live their lives digging through soil.  Or, in our classroom, digging through coffee grounds and wet newspaper.  

Instead of legs, they have bristles on each segment of their bodies that help them move. Ms. Flaherty moved a Slinky to show them how having so many segments lets the worm turn and maneuver.

The kids already knew that worms need to stay moist.  So they each sprayed a piece of paper towel to get ready for their temporary guest. 

Then they each got a worm and a piece of apple.  Since the red wigglers love apple peels, the kids wanted to see if they would wiggle their way in the apple's direction.

Then it was time for each student to do exactly what scientists do. They learned by looking. The observations came fast and furious.

"Mine is a real wiggler."

"Mine is hungry.  It's moving toward the apple."

"The bristles are so tiny!"

"Mine is staying in the coffee dirt.  Maybe it's scared."

"It's so soft," says one scientist, carefully touching his worm."

"Mine loves its worm tunnel," said another, "but he didn't stop to eat some.  Why?"

That's science for you: It raises as many questions as it answers.