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Investigate Bugs in Your Backyard

Activities

Summary:

kyleen1

Spend time on the ground outside and learn more about critters you find! Students will dig in different areas of soil to investigate the relationship between location and the number of macroinvertebrates (bugs).

Learning Goals:

  • Students will learn the vocabulary: macroinvertebrate, ecosystem, changed variable, and measured variable
  • Students will carry out a soil investigation by searching through the ground and counting creatures they see
  • Students will make connections between how the location of soil they dig in might be related to the quantity of macroinvertebrates they find

Materials Needed:

  • Access to investigation data chart (see attached)
  • Paper to journal and sketch on
  • Pencil
  • 3 different locations to look for bugs. Can’t find access to dirt? Look under bushes or along a sidewalk!
  • Container
  • Scooper (like a spoon or gardening tool)
  • Timer
  • Link to list of macroinvertebrates (you can print it!): http://www.colby.edu/biology/BI131/Lab/Lab08SoilinvertGuide.pdf
  • Optional: gardening gloves, hula hoop

kyleen3Explore:

  1. Discuss with your student(s):
    1. What do you think lives under the dirt?
    2. What do you think you’d find if you looked under the ground?
  2. Students draw, color, and label bugs that they think might live in the area of investigation (your backyard, a community park, etc). Dig around in the dirt for something to draw to get you started.
  3. Have your student(s) journal:
    1. What do you notice?
    2. What do you wonder?

                        *You are a student too! Tell your student what you notice and wonder.

Investigate:

  1. Most of the little bugs in the dirt are called macroinvertebrates.
    1. A macroinvertebrate, according to Britannica (https://www.britannica.com/animal/macroinvertebrate), is any animal lacking a backbone and is large enough to see without the aid of a microscope. Macroinvertebrates are part of an underground ecosystem.
    2. An ecosystem, according to Britannica (https://www.britannica.com/science/ecosystem), is the complex of living organisms, their physical environment, and all their interrelationships in a particular unit of space.
  2. Discuss with your student(s):
    1. Is there a location where the macroinvertebrates are more active near the surface?
    2. Where do you think you’ll be able to find the most/least amount of macroinvertebrates?
  3. Decide on 3 hula hoop-sized locations (if finding dirt is difficult, try under bushes or along a sidewalk. If you don’t have a hula hoop, draw a large circle with a stick or your finger).
    1. These 3 locations represent your changed variable, which is the one variable changed by the scientist.
  4. Using your hands or a scooper, find as many macroinvertebrates as you can within 5 minutes. Put any macroinvertebrates you find in a storage container so you can count, record, and identify them.
    1. The macroinvertebrates are your measured variable, which is what scientists focus their observations on to see how they respond to the change made to the changed variable.
  5. kyleen datasheetAfter 5 minutes, count up how many total macroinvertebrates you found and record that number in your chart. Use the provided identification chart (link) to learn more about those macroinvertebrates.
  6. Sketch and label your favorite macroinvertebrate, then return them back to their ecosystem in the soil.
  7. Continue this process for your 2 other hula hoop-sized locations (changed variables), searching for the same amount of time (5 minutes) and looking for macroinvertebrates (measured variable) in the same way.

Research:

  1. Now your student(s) should have looked through 3 locations, recorded your number of macroinvertebrates in the data chart, sketched a couple macroinvertebrates, and returned them all back to their ecosystem. So…(discuss) what is the relationship between location and number of macroinvertebrates found?
  2. Have your student(s) journal:
    1. What does the data tell you?
    2. Where can you look to find the most and least amount of macroinvertebrates? How do you know?
    3. Was this how you thought the investigation would turn out?
    4. What surprised you?
  3. Discuss: Why do you think macroinvertebrates live (or don’t live) in the soil you looked in? What’s your evidence?
    1. Trying using this sentence stem: I think     [claim]     because     [evidence]    .

*Example: I think worms live in my compost pile because there are lots of nutrient-rich foods for them to munch on.

kyleen5Wonder:

  1. Discuss with your student(s):
    1. What did you learn that you didn’t know before?

    2. If you could do this investigation again, what would you do differently? What would you do the same?

    3. What new questions do you have?

    4. If you could design your own investigation, what question would you ask? What relationship would you explore?

Resources:

Investigation Data Chart (see attached)

Video of Investigation Summary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOpEDawETMg)

How do I identify macroinvertebrates: http://www.colby.edu/biology/BI131/Lab/Lab08SoilinvertGuide.pdf

What is a macroinvertebrate: https://www.britannica.com/animal/macroinvertebrate

What is an ecosystem: https://www.britannica.com/science/ecosystem

Next Steps:

Try other Home Growin’ Kids lessons at https://homegrowinkids.wixsite.com/homegrowinkids

Summary:

kyleen1

Spend time on the ground outside and learn more about critters you find! Students will dig in different areas of soil to investigate the relationship between location and the number of macroinvertebrates (bugs).

Learning Goals:

  • Students will learn the vocabulary: macroinvertebrate, ecosystem, changed variable, and measured variable
  • Students will carry out a soil investigation by searching through the ground and counting creatures they see
  • Students will make connections between how the location of soil they dig in might be related to the quantity of macroinvertebrates they find

Materials Needed:

  • Access to investigation data chart (see attached)
  • Paper to journal and sketch on
  • Pencil
  • 3 different locations to look for bugs. Can’t find access to dirt? Look under bushes or along a sidewalk!
  • Container
  • Scooper (like a spoon or gardening tool)
  • Timer
  • Link to list of macroinvertebrates (you can print it!): http://www.colby.edu/biology/BI131/Lab/Lab08SoilinvertGuide.pdf
  • Optional: gardening gloves, hula hoop

kyleen3Explore:

  1. Discuss with your student(s):
    1. What do you think lives under the dirt?
    2. What do you think you’d find if you looked under the ground?
  2. Students draw, color, and label bugs that they think might live in the area of investigation (your backyard, a community park, etc). Dig around in the dirt for something to draw to get you started.
  3. Have your student(s) journal:
    1. What do you notice?
    2. What do you wonder?

                        *You are a student too! Tell your student what you notice and wonder.

Investigate:

  1. Most of the little bugs in the dirt are called macroinvertebrates.
    1. A macroinvertebrate, according to Britannica (https://www.britannica.com/animal/macroinvertebrate), is any animal lacking a backbone and is large enough to see without the aid of a microscope. Macroinvertebrates are part of an underground ecosystem.
    2. An ecosystem, according to Britannica (https://www.britannica.com/science/ecosystem), is the complex of living organisms, their physical environment, and all their interrelationships in a particular unit of space.
  2. Discuss with your student(s):
    1. Is there a location where the macroinvertebrates are more active near the surface?
    2. Where do you think you’ll be able to find the most/least amount of macroinvertebrates?
  3. Decide on 3 hula hoop-sized locations (if finding dirt is difficult, try under bushes or along a sidewalk. If you don’t have a hula hoop, draw a large circle with a stick or your finger).
    1. These 3 locations represent your changed variable, which is the one variable changed by the scientist.
  4. Using your hands or a scooper, find as many macroinvertebrates as you can within 5 minutes. Put any macroinvertebrates you find in a storage container so you can count, record, and identify them.
    1. The macroinvertebrates are your measured variable, which is what scientists focus their observations on to see how they respond to the change made to the changed variable.
  5. kyleen datasheetAfter 5 minutes, count up how many total macroinvertebrates you found and record that number in your chart. Use the provided identification chart (link) to learn more about those macroinvertebrates.
  6. Sketch and label your favorite macroinvertebrate, then return them back to their ecosystem in the soil.
  7. Continue this process for your 2 other hula hoop-sized locations (changed variables), searching for the same amount of time (5 minutes) and looking for macroinvertebrates (measured variable) in the same way.

Research:

  1. Now your student(s) should have looked through 3 locations, recorded your number of macroinvertebrates in the data chart, sketched a couple macroinvertebrates, and returned them all back to their ecosystem. So…(discuss) what is the relationship between location and number of macroinvertebrates found?
  2. Have your student(s) journal:
    1. What does the data tell you?
    2. Where can you look to find the most and least amount of macroinvertebrates? How do you know?
    3. Was this how you thought the investigation would turn out?
    4. What surprised you?
  3. Discuss: Why do you think macroinvertebrates live (or don’t live) in the soil you looked in? What’s your evidence?
    1. Trying using this sentence stem: I think     [claim]     because     [evidence]    .

*Example: I think worms live in my compost pile because there are lots of nutrient-rich foods for them to munch on.

kyleen5Wonder:

  1. Discuss with your student(s):
    1. What did you learn that you didn’t know before?

    2. If you could do this investigation again, what would you do differently? What would you do the same?

    3. What new questions do you have?

    4. If you could design your own investigation, what question would you ask? What relationship would you explore?

Resources:

Investigation Data Chart (see attached)

Video of Investigation Summary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOpEDawETMg)

How do I identify macroinvertebrates: http://www.colby.edu/biology/BI131/Lab/Lab08SoilinvertGuide.pdf

What is a macroinvertebrate: https://www.britannica.com/animal/macroinvertebrate

What is an ecosystem: https://www.britannica.com/science/ecosystem

Next Steps:

Try other Home Growin’ Kids lessons at https://homegrowinkids.wixsite.com/homegrowinkids

About the Author
Kyleen Ellingsen

I have an Elementary Mathematics Education degree and endorsements in Elementary Education and Middle Level Mathematics through Western Washington University. I have completed IslandWood’s Education for the Environment and Community graduate program and am currently working towards my Masters in Education in Teaching and Curriculum through the University of Washington. I have spent cherished time teaching 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classrooms.