Students at Landing Elementary School Observe Worm Behavior

Isabella Dilgard-Clark, Grade 5, observing how her worm thrives in moist, damp soil, as opposed to dry soil.

Recently, fifth grade students in Ms. Simeone and Mrs. Liptzin’s classes at Landing Elementary School in the Glen Cove City School District completed a unique science experiment using worms! In this experiment, students observed worms’ behavior, looking for clues as to what they typically do in a garden. The students conducted experiments with multiple trials to figure out if worms prefer wet or dry areas. Each student was given a paper plate with a damp paper towel, a piece of black construction paper, and a few worms from outside.

The students observed the worms crawling underneath the black construction paper, pointing to the theory that they were trying to get away from light, looking for somewhere dark to hide. Unlike humans that can see light with their eyes, worms sense light through their skin. These sensors let the earthworms know when they are getting too close to a bright light, such as the sun – to help them avoid drying out and not being able to breathe.

Students also discovered that worms prefer wet areas over dry, as they all crawled to the damp side of the paper towel. The classes concluded that because worms breathe through their skin, the skin must be kept damp to aid in the diffusion process. Dry conditions prevent the worms from receiving oxygen. The students discussed that this is the reason why worms are usually only seen above ground when it is rainy or at night, when the air is moist. The rest of the time, damp soil allows the worms to live below ground and receive the air they need to survive.

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