Let's Explore Mealworms! - Day 1

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SWBAT predict, observe and describe the basic needs of living things.

Big Idea

We get to explore Mealworms and rocks!! What could be more fun?

Setting the Stage:

National Science Education Science Standards Connection:

The National Science Education Standards has said that making observations is key to inquiry-based and discovery-focused learning in science instruction. In order to do this students participate in inquiry-based learning that allows them to solve a problem in science through observation, discourse and using a science journal. Students will then be give a chance to share their findings with their peers and then reflect on their own understanding.

Next Generation Science Standards Connection:

In this unit students will learn that organisms have external parts that help them survive in nature and then use that information to help them solve a human problem by mimicking plants and animals. This is called biomimicry - bio: life, mimicry - to copy. To learn more about biomimicry check out this Ted Talks.

In this lesson students will observe and make an evidence-based account that organisms react to food, water, air and touch.

Home to School Connection:

In this unit we will be learning animal and plant parts. Students will learn that organisms have external parts that help them survive in nature. The NGSS standards ask students solve a human problem by mimicking how plants and animals survive.  Each a day a student in class will be able to take home the Organisms Bag. In this bag I have included a recording sheet, crayons and pencils, and the book What if You Had Animal Teeth by Sandra Markle.

Classroom Structures:

In order to support a high level of student discourse within my science lessons I have assigned two different student partnerships.  Turn and Talk Partners are discourse partners that work together to share the deep thinking that happens throughout the day.  Workshop Partners are partners who are matched together for the purpose of working during our independent times.  In this lesson students will be engaged in both partnerships.

Vocabulary Cards:

These are the vocabulary that will be covered in this unit that addresses 1-LS1-1.  You can choose to use these cards in different ways. I like to print all vocabulary words on card stock and hang them on my science bulletin board as a reference tool throughout the unit.  You can also use these cards as flashcards or a concentration matching game.

Materials: *Be sure to have enough supplies for students to work in partnerships

Living and Nonliving T-Chart



*Mealworm Tray (If you use a container with a lid be sure it includes holes for air)

*flat toothpick

*uncooked oatmeal

*slice of potato or apple (sliced thin)

Mealworm Basic Needs lab sheet

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

 Science Journals: Prompt - What is the difference between living and nonliving things?


15 minutes

The standard addressed in this unit requires students to make observations and identify functions that help animals survive in nature.  In this lesson my students observe a Mealworm and use that information to make an evidence-based account that living things have basic needs.  I have chosen to use Mealworms because they are useful for studying animal behavior.  They are easy to manage and respond to many different types of stimuli.

Boys and girls in our last lesson you learned a new word. Does anyone remember that new word?  You are right! Organism! Turn and tell your partner what an organism is?

I bring my students back to attention and share what I heard them say. I heard you say that living things need food, water, air and shelter. Living things move, grow and have 5 senses.

I ask my students, How are living and nonliving things different?  My students share their thinking with their turn and talk partners. As my students share I listen in on their conversations as a formative assessments for what my students already know. 

 Video: Formative Assessment


25 minutes

EXPLORATION!!  Students get to observe real, alive organisms! In this section students will observe mealworms and a rock. In this section students will be working with their workshop partners.

Boys and girls today you are going to observe organisms in our classroom. Remember the key to a good observation is that it must be accurate and factual. That means you cannot make it up. It must be exact, and to do this you must keep careful notes of your observations. You will do this by writing and drawing your observations. Remember the information that you collect today is called evidence or data. You are going to use your observations to help you learn more about organisms.

I show my students a tray with a mealworm inside. This is called a mealworm. Do you think the mealworm is an organism or not an organism.  My students all yell out, ORGANISM! I do the same for the rock.  Today you will answer this question: How are living and nonliving things different?  Your job is to observe both the mealworm and the rock and use your sense of sight to observe what you see happening. Today you will be making predictions, observing and then recording your data on a Mealworm Basic Needs lab booklet. 

Before I send you off, please be respectful of the organisms.  You must follow the directions on your recording sheet closely. Remember while in the science lab, we always behave just like scientists. I review our "How Do Scientists Behave?" chart.

I consider this observation to be a Guided Observation. That means it is a lot more structured than some of my other investigations.  I walk the students through each step by reading each section and have them compete it step by step. 

As my students observe organisms, I walk around and confer with each student naming and noticing the smart thinking happening. Conferring is the process of listening and recording the work the student or students are doing and then compliment the work. As I listen, I research a teaching point and then work to provide clarification through questioning, modeling and re-teaching. I refer back to our question:  How are living and nonliving things different?


10 minutes

The NGSS asks that students communicate learning from observations. In the explain section I want my students to share their observations with their turn and talk partners.  Each partnership will engage in accountable talk agreeing or disagreeing with each observation notes.  The purpose for partnership is two-fold.  I want students sharing their observations and explaining their thinking as well as engaging in high levels of student discourse and reasoning. 

Thank you for meeting me on the carpet with your Mealworm Basic Needs Lab form. Thank you for meeting me on the carpet with your observations. We can call this  work you have your data.  Now you get to do just what scientists do. You are going to share your data with your turn and talk partner.  Your job is to have a thoughtful conversation with your partner about your findings and your partners findings. As your partner shares his or her work with you, I want you to listen carefully to your partner today.  Are you ready to give this a go?

As my students share I video tape and listen in on their conversations.  I show my students some of the rich conversations and point out the strengths in each conversation.


10 minutes

After the students have had time to share their results I bring them to their tables to watch a video about Mealworm life cylce. 

Boys and girls, you may not know this but a mealworm is a baby bug just like a catepillar is a baby butterfly or moth.  I show my students the book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  We have already read this book so I just review if for my students. I hold up a mealworm. How many of you think you know what our mealworms will grow up to become?  My students share a bunch of different insects.  Today we are going to watch a video that will the life cycle of the Mealworm.  This video has been fixed so that we can see the Mealworm change in a short period of time. Normally it takes a lot longer that what the video shows.


5 minutes

The Science and Engineering Practice 4 asks students to analyze data. At the K-2 level this involves students collecting, recording, and sharing observations. In this lesson the students are recording information, thoughts and ideas in their science journals. I send my students back to their science journals and ask them to write the answer to our big question: "What is the difference between living and nonliving things?"

As the students write I tell them to refer back to their research. I am looking for answers that include both illustrations and words that describe how living things are different from nonliving things.