Planning Wormy Experiments

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SWBAT draft experiments by trying to find ways to answer two questions about worms.

Big Idea

Young children can be successfully introduced to answering questions through designing experiments by using guiding questions.

Stating the question(s)

5 minutes

For this lesson, I had the kids plan out the steps for two different experiments at the same time. We did this to plan the closing to our worm unit. There were two unanswered question on our original list of "want to knows" that the kids developed a the beginning of the unit.

I bring the class in from lunch recess and have them sit on the floor. I call one row at a time to get drinks. They are asked to "sit like scientists" upon their return from getting a drink. They are expected to sit quietly with hands in their laps, mouths closed, eyes, ears and brain ready to learn.

I ask the kids to think about the last two questions on our original list:

Question one:

Can worms race?


Question two:

Do worms like some foods and not others?


To answer these questions, I titled two sheets of chart paper and asked the kids to think about how we could answer these questions. I asked them to consider how we would go about creating an experiment to answer the questions. What steps would we have to follow to get the answers? I had them close their eyes and "make a movie" in their minds to get ideas of how we could find the answers.

The kids are asked to keep their ideas in their heads and hold them their until it is time to discuss our ideas.

Deciding what we already know

5 minutes

We continue to be seated on the floor.

Now that the kids have their basic ideas in their heads, we begin the "clarification process." This means we now need to find out what we already know before we move on to discovering new things.

We first do this verbally by sharing out what we know. First I have the kids talk to their floor partners about what they remember about worms, then I call on random volunteers to share out what they discussed with their partner.

I do not write out what the kids say, as it is a recap of what we've already learned and listed. Once we finished with the verbal, we do a quick read-through of our written list of "What we know."

Designing to worm races

10 minutes

The kids continue to sit on the floor to think through how we would most successfully answer the questions.

I have already written the header on the two pieces of chart paper.

Chart paper 1:

Worm Races

Chart paper 2:

Foods Worms Like

We discuss these two experiments during the same lesson. We first plan out the worm races and then the foods.

For the worm races, I don't list the question. We just go over it verbally: Can worms race?

To answer this question, I have the kids talk with their floor partner about the race idea(s) they visualized in their heads.

I then have the kids go through it all one step at a time. My kids decide to list the needed materials first. They come up with the following:

whiteboards for race tracks

salad/food for an incentive at the end of the race track

two different kinds of worms

spray bottle of water to keep the worms moist.

They later add yarn for a divider and finish line to be taped on to the whiteboards in a capital T formation. They did not ask me to add it to the list in writing because they were already drawing out their plans when a table of students suggested it.

Then we list the directions.

1) put one prepared whiteboard on each table

2) wet the boards so the worms can move easy

3) put worms on the whiteboards

4) place food at the finish line

5) observe what the worms do

Designing food experiment

10 minutes

We finish the worm race plan completely before moving to the one about food.

Once the worm races have been designed, I have the kids begin the worm food. First we list the question.

They decide the answer to the question is another question, "Where will they dig?" They decide that the worms will dig in the dirt with the food they like.

Next the list the materials that will be needed for the experiment. They include the following:

boxes or tubs (to hold the soil)

one kind of worm (they verbally chose night crawlers)


salad (for one side)

apple pieces (for one side)

They then list the how:

mix 1/2 the soil with salad

mix the other 1/2 of the soil with apples

fill the boxes 1/2 and 1/2, side by side, with salad soil and apple soil

place worm on top in the middle of the two soils and see where they choose to dig

They decide that the final step is for them to tally which side each tables worm decided to dig to see if most worms dig in the same side.

Envision and recap

5 minutes

We go over each chart one more time. I have the kids envision what it may look like in their minds before moving to the closure. I have them tell their floor partner what they think each experiment looks like in their minds one at a time, first the races then the food.

Then I explain to the kids how they will draw out what they envision for the experiments. I call one table at a time to go sit down and prepare to draw their visions.

I call on one student who was sitting nicely through the development of the experiments to hand out a blank page of copy paper to each student.

Sketching the plan (closure)

10 minutes

I set the timer for seven minutes for drawing. I have the kids work quietly and studiously for the full seven minutes.

When the timer goes off, I have the kids come back to the floor with what they have finished and I call on kids randomly by pulling name sticks from a name stick can. They are asked to come to the front of the class and show one or both of their drawings and explain what they put in them. The rest of the students are encouraged to ask any questions they may have about the vision.

The kids learn quickly to have rich discussions at a kindergarten level. One student did not show any dividers on his worm race track. Another student asked, what will you do if the worms crash? The boy said that he plans to have an emergency medical kit for the worms ready for them if they need it. All I could think was that the young man must watch NASCAR with his parents!