Let's Explore Mealworms! - Day 2

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SWBAT predict, observe and compare the behavioral responses of Mealworms to the behavioral response of rocks when exposed to various stimuli.

Big Idea

Mealworms have behaviors? Students get to explore how Mealworms and rocks respond to peppermint oil, water, air and light. What do you think will happen?

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 get to explore the behavioral responses of Mealworms after being exposed to various stimuli.

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.


Looking at Nature: What are these animals doing? by Bobbie Kalman

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

Living and Nonliving T-Chart

*Mealworm and rock habitats from our last lesson

*flat toothpick



*peppermint on a cotton ball

*water and water dropper


Mealworm Behaviors lab sheet

 Science Journals: Prompt - What are some behaviors of living 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 living things and use that information to make an evidence-based account that living things move and react to different stimuli.   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.

The Common Core English Language Arts Standards asks our students to explain major differences between books that tell stories and books that give information, drawing on a wide reading of a range of text types.  

Boys and girls, we are going to be observing the behaviors of a Mealworm but before we get started we are going to read this book all about animal behaviors.

For this lesson I have chosen the book Looking at Nature: What are these animals doing? by Bobbie Kalman because both the illustrations and content provide opportunities for rich scientific dialogue. This book is quite long so you can pick and chose what sections are appropriate for your class.  


25 minutes

EXPLORATION ROUND 2!!  Students get to observe the behaviors of real, alive organisms! In this section students will observe what happens to a Mealworm and a rock when various stimuli are introduced to the environment. In this section students will be working with their workshop partners.

Boys and girls today we are going to study the behaviors of both our rock and Mealworm. Remember, a good observation must be accurate and factual. That means you cannot make it up. You will be collecting more evidence and data and will share this data with your turn and talk partner.

I show my students a tray with all the tools they will be using.  I am careful to model how to use each stimulus correctly.

Before I send you off, please be respectful of the organisms.  You must follow the directions closely. Remember while in the science lab, we always behave just like scientists. Please turn and tell your partner ways to behave when doing science.

*** Just like in our last lesson, 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 on their Mealworm Behaviors lab sheet and have them compete it step by step. 

NOTE: Mealworm Behavior lab sheet - The purpose of page 3 is for enrichment.

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:  What are some behaviors of living things?


10 minutes

The NGSS asks that students communicate and explain information 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 others' observation notes.  I want my 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 observations. We can call this  work you have your data.  Each of you have collected a lot of really good data today.  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 assign partnerships to work on a Mealworm virtual lab. They will make predictions and then record the actual behavior in the appropriate boxes.  After allowing them to watch the video and explore more mealworm behavior I introduce two words: instinctive and reflexes. 

Boys and girls, animals have two types of behaviors: reflex and instinctive.  Reflexes are behaviors that just happen.  For example if you start to fall your reflex is to put your hands out.  All animals have reflexes.  Instinctive behaviors are a little different.  Animals are born with instinctive behaviors like dogs will scratch the ground or couch before sitting or laying down.  This is something that all dogs do. They are born with that instinct. These instinctive behaviors help animals to survive.

Which Mealworm behaviors were reflexes and which behaviors were instinctive?


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 are some behaviors of living 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 behaviors of some living things.