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Here students observe the life cycle of mealworms while taking care of their needs
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Title – Watching My Mealworm Grow
By – Christine Jefferson
Primary Subject – Science
Grade Level – 1-3
Topic/Unit: Life Cycles
- Students will learn about the life cycle of mealworms while taking care of their needs and observing their metamorphosis.
Students will learn:
- The different life cycles of a mealworm: egg, larva, pupa, adult
- The different parts of an insect: head, abdomen, thorax, 6 legs, antennae
- Essentials for living: food, shelter and water
- How to care for a living organism
- Scientific theory: making observations, hypothesis, results and conclusions.
- Standard 1.1 Constructing New Scientific Knowledge
- Standard 11.1 Reflecting on Scientific Knowledge
- Strand 111 Using Scientific Knowledge in Life Science
- Standard 111.2 The Organization of Living Things
- Standard 111.4 Evolution
- Standard 111.5 Ecosystems
Learning Resources and Materials:
- Small clean baby food jar for each student’s mealworm environment
- Paper towel
- Mealworm Journal
Development of Lesson:
- First prepare the students by teaching the basics needed for this project, explain the different stages in the life cycle of insects, the body parts of an insect and relate it to a human’s body, the essentials needed to live, and how to care for a living organism (could relate to a house pet: dog, cat, hamster, etc.).
- To focus the students interest, let them know they will become parents during this project and take care of their very own baby mealworm. They will watch them grow up and care for them by observing their environment.
- This lesson can easily be connected to their past experiences for those that have had a family pet, or younger sibling, etc.
- The best strategy for the project would be to let each individual care and observe their own mealworm. However if funds are minimal, this could be done as an entire class together watching a single mealworm’s life.
- Every week the student will watch and observe their mealworm and keep a journal of their findings. Once a week the student will record the following observations of their mealworm: color, length, texture, noise, movement, number of body segments, number of legs, and presence of antennae. They will also draw a picture of what they see.
- The students will learn through this project from linking prior knowledge of insects (introduced to the students before the project began), and also they will be able to talk amongst themselves and compare notes with each other. The required list of observations the students are to record will guide them to specific learning.
- After a month of observations, the mealworm should be an adult. At this time a discussion will take place to determine all of the student’s findings. As the teacher, ask questions to dig out knowledge from your students. Link questions to see that your students have learned the different life stages of their mealworms.
- For those students with special needs, more help can be provided. The project can be done together, or in bigger groups. As the teacher, be able to provide answers to your students, or ask more questions to retrieve the answers from your students.
- For students at different learning levels, it should not be a big issue with this project because the students are allowed to compare notes with each other. For those students who are struggling, they may ask their peers for help. Otherwise the teacher is always available for extra help.
- Throughout the project, monitoring will be done by collecting the journals weekly. This way you can see whether or not the student is on the right path and also give feedback to help the student get back on track, or keep up the good work.
- It is wise to create a rubric to follow with grading the journals to determine whether the student is able to meet/ understand the benchmark. The drawing they provide in their journal can help assess their understanding of the project.
- To evaluate the students, collect their journals at the end of the week. Determine according to your rubric whether they are on the right track and grasping the correct ideas.
- Interpret their drawings and read into their observations.
- Provide feedback to the students to ensure they continue on the right track. It is important to give your students feedback to ensure they are learning.
- To help the students reflect on what they have learned, ask a series of questions based on their recorded observations. Go over the project as a class as to what was expected and then go over the information taught before the project began. Review the key concepts, such as the different stages of the life cycle, the different body parts of an insect and the essentials needed to live. With this knowledge, now go back and determine which parts of the body were developed in the different stages of the mealworm. What were the mealworms’ essentials? What did they need to live (carrot, oatmeal, etc)?
- For future curriculums, depending on how the students grasp this project, you could include more key terms and concepts, or fewer.
- The benchmarks were supported from my observations. Students were able to identify when a new stage in the life cycle was beginning, and from their drawings I could see the different body parts forming. The journals were a success to help the students learn independently, and come to their own conclusions. At one point, one of the student’s mealworms died unexpectedly. From this unanticipated circumstance, I was able to teach the student that they were not providing the essential nutrients to their pet. This is why it died (relate it to the student and explain that without water, humans could not survive either). After this was taught, I decided to couple him up with another student who was struggling, therefore together they completed the assignment, and did a good job.
- Three things that I thought went well with this project was:
- The students were able to follow the different stages of the mealworms life cycle, evidence from their observations and drawings.
- The students, for the most part were able to learn independently from me, from connecting their observations to their prior knowledge, and displayed knowledge of the material through their drawings.
- The students connected as a group and discussed and exchanged knowledge to help each other learn.
- One thing I would do differently if I were to teach this lesson again:
- I would give less information before they begin the project. I would not give as many details about the three different body parts that insects form, or that a mealworm will develop through four different distinct stages. I would not give as much information to my students because I think they can learn more on their own and from each other. I think they will be able to see on their own that the mealworm develops through stages. And from looking back at their drawings and observations, they will determine the different body parts of an insect.
- As a teacher I learned:
- Students are very smart and can learn a lot from their own observations. I do not have to lecture as much information prior to a project, because throughout the project they are able to discover the concepts themselves. This is a big learning step for me. For future practices, I will try to incorporate as much hands-on learning as I can. This makes it more interesting and fun for the students and gives them confidence because in a way they are learning on their own and realize how smart they are.
E-Mail Christine Jefferson !