Beacon Lesson Plan Library
Take A Meal Worm To Lunch
Robert Brock Bay District Schools
Description
Students use mealworms in a guided inquiry lesson to stimulate questions from observations and learn how to use scientific processes in designing experiments to answer those questions.
Objectives
The student uses systematic, scientific processes to solve problems and reach conclusions.
The student extends and refines use of accurate records, openness, and replication of experiments to ensure credibility.
Materials
Plastic cup (one per group)
Mealworm (obtain from pet shop, one per group)
Magnifying glass (one per group)
Notebook or sheet of paper, (to write observations, one per student)
Pencil (one per student)
Assessment rubrics (see Associated File)
Preparations
1. Access the first two Websites and read about inquiry.
2. Access the last two Websites and read about mealworms.
3. Go to a pet store and purchase about 50 mealworms. Fifty mealworms may be necessary to compensate for those that may die prior to completion of the activity. Place one mealworm in a clear plastic cup for each group before students enter the classroom.
4. Each group will need a magnifying glass.
5. The teacher will need chart paper or an overhead projector sheet for students to write questions.
6. Duplicate and distribute copies of the assessment rubrics for students (see Associated File) to review at the beginning of each day.
Procedures
NOTE: It is important to review each rubric with students before assessments are used and after assessments are implemented.
Day One (Initiation Stage)
1. Form students into groups not exceeding three students per group.
2. Tell the students they are going to engage in an activity that is designed to allow them to make observations that will stimulate questions. The objective of the activity is to identify and write down questions they would like to investigate in an experiment they will design. Distribute the Initiation Rubric and discuss criteria. (See associated file.)
3. Place the mealworm in the cup and magnifying glass in front of each group. Tell the students it is a harmless creature and they are to observe the animal for fifteen minutes.
4. Inform the students that observations can include taking the mealworm out of the container, placing the mealworm in their hands or on the desktops.
5. Encourage students to discuss their observations with each other within their groups and to write down any questions the group may have about the mealworm.
6. After fifteen minutes, regain the attention of the whole class and tell them you are going to ask one person from each group to identify one question from the group’s list. Write the question on the board or overhead projector. Continue this process until all groups have all of their questions clearly written in public view. Groups may pass if any of their remaining questions are already posted at the end of each round. Collect the written questions from each group and assess them for compliance to the day’s objective with the Initiation Rubric. To determine individual progress, have students write a paragraph about what the group accomplished and what they contributed to the day's activities.
Day Two (Exploration Stage)
7. Return the questions to each group and explain how the group was assessed with the Initiation Rubric. Return each paragraph to the individual students with written comments and encourage students to continue quality contributions. Review each question and eliminate those that are very similar or would not be appropriate for experimentation due to ethics or lack of sufficient equipment. Use the remaining questions the students have posed and ask the students how they might solve the questions. What kind of evidence would they need to collect?
8. After the questions have been narrowed, allow students to choose which question they would like to investigate and encourage students to form groups that would like to investigate the same question. However, limit the groups to a maximum of three students. These groups will be referred to as investigation groups.
9. Instruct students to form into their investigation groups. Tell the students the objective of this day’s activity is to discuss within the investigation group how they will do their experiments and to list the materials they will need for their experiments. Distribute and discuss the Exploration Stage Rubric. (see associated file)
10. Circulate around each group and help students identify possible procedures that might lead to solutions to the group’s investigation. It is important to encourage students to arrive at their own procedures and to allow the group to act on their own ideas. Do not interject ideas on solving the problem unless a group is seriously or hopelessly deadlocked.
11. After the investigation groups have formulated a procedure, encourage the teams to try to utilize commonly found materials from home or supermarkets they can bring the next day for the experiments. Ask students to underline any materials they cannot provide from home and to submit a copy of the procedures and materials. Collect and assess each group’s procedural list using the Exploration Rubric. To determine individual progress, instruct the students to write a paragraph about what the group accomplished and what they contributed to the day's activities.
Day Three (Experimentation Stage: Student Selfdirected Day)
12. Students form into their investigation groups. Return the exploration rubric assessment and discuss how students can improve their investigations.
Return each paragraph, from the day before, to the individual students with written comments and encourage students to continue quality contributions. Tell the students the objective of this day’s activity is to complete their experiments, discuss the results and design some method of displaying the results and conclusions for class reporting. Roam about the classroom monitoring student interactions and behaviors. Refrain from answering questions that are directed by students trying to ascertain if the data they have collected is correct. Instead, redirect the question by telling students they will have an opportunity to compare their results with each other and ask questions of the other groups. For example, you might answer students with, How could you find out……What happens when…….What did you discover….. Distribute and discuss the Experimentation Day Rubric.
13. Once experiments have been completed, students are instructed to discuss the results and derive a conclusion based on their findings. Students use the remaining class time designing and constructing a display to present to the class that explains the final results. To determine individual progress, instruct the students to write a paragraph about what the group accomplished and what they contributed to the day's activities. Distribute and discuss the Reporting Day Rubric.
Day Four (Reporting Stage)
14. Return each paragraph, from the day before, to the individual students with written comments and encourage students to continue quality contributions. Each group designates a member to present the findings of the investigation. At the end of each presentation, students in the audience are allowed to ask the presentation group questions about procedures, findings and conclusions. Students might ask questions such as, What did you find out about…? Can you explain why…? Why do you think that…? What other factors might be involved in …? List new questions that arise from the conversations for further investigation. Assess the presentation with the Reporting Stage Rubric.
NOTE: It is important to review each rubric with students before assessments are used and after assessments are implemented.
Assessments
Students are assessed at the end of each day using a performance rubric to determine the level of competency attained. Each rubric has descriptors and criteria of performance that are delineated by key performance phrases, which indicate the level of mastery. At the beginning of each day in the lesson, return the assesment rubric of the prior day and address how groups were assessed. This allows groups to discuss how they might improve their investigation at each step. To determine individual progress, instruct the students to write a paragraph about what the group accomplished and what they learned from each day's activities. Return each paragraph to the individual student with written comments as formative feedback.
Extensions
1. The lesson can be extended by a allowing students to investigate a different organism such as a mosquito larva, earthworm or small fish.
2. The teacher can demonstrate stages of insect development by allowing the mealworm to go through all four stages.
3. The teacher can provide students time to build Web pages about their experiments, highlighting their questions, procedures and results.
Web Links
This home page for the science inquiry model is excellent in describing inquiry and how inquiry can be practiced in the science classroom. Science Inquiry ModelThis Website provides advice for teachers on how to implement inquiry and problem solving activities with students. Guidance for teachersThis site provides basic information about mealworms. Darkling Beetle/Mealworm InformationThis site provides basic instructions about keeping and raising mealworms. Insects  Mealworms
