Worm Bin Project Unit
Worm Bin Project Unit
  • Unit Description
  • Objectives
  • Materials and Resources
  • Unit Lesson Plans
  • Relation to Standards
  • One Computer versus Many

  • Unit Description

        Jackie Applin and her third grade class, the Applin Dumplin' Gang, at Newberry Elementary School in Newberry, MI, conducted a project in which they learned about decomposition of waste and the life cycle by creating and maintaining "worm bins." The project gave them an opportunity to collaborate and learn with students at another school in Michigan. For more on the Applin Dumplin' Gang's experiences with the worm bin project, you can check out Jackie's teacher case. For now, read on in this unit to learn how you can do a worm bin project.

        In this unit, students will learn about decomposition and the life cycle by creating worm bins. Through direct observation, they will develop an understanding of the effects different organisms, including humans, have on one another. They will collect and share scientific data with students in another school over email. Such activities will give students an opportunity to explore scientific concepts in a manner that makes science more personally relevant and meaningful.

        Students will be able to collect background information on the worm bin project using some of the resources provided as well as directed Internet and library searches.

        The plans for this unit are tailored to fit classroom situations where students and teachers have access to several computers that have internet access. To accomodate the fact that few classrooms will have access to a computer lab with full Internet access, students will work in research groups to explore internet sites and conduct internet research. Up to Contents of this Page

    1. Students will learn more about decomposition and the life cycle.

    2. Students will use the scientific method to pose and test hypotheses related to worms, decomposition, and plant growth.

    3. Students will collaborate with their peers by sharing data and observations via email or teleconferencing.

    4. Students will present their findings in a variety of formats: graphically, pictorally, verbally, orally.

    5. Students will learn about the resources available on the WWW/Internet through research and guided browsing.
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    Materials and Resources

    1. Hardware requirements: You will need a modem and phone line.

    2. Software requirements: You will need an Internet browser software package, preferably Netscape. You will need an email software package like Eudora or FirstClass. You will also need ClarisWorks, or another integrated software package that has word processing and graphing capabilities.

    3. Network/Internet requirements: At least one computer with an internet connection.
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    Unit Lesson Plans

    1. Lesson One: Introduction to Worm Bin Project. Students create worm bins and begin worm bin activity.

    2. Lesson Two: Collaboration Online. Students organize into small, collaborative groups and match up with partner groups at another school. Collaborative groups of students collect and exchange data and observations related to the worm bins with their partner group.

    3. Lesson Three: Growing Plants with Worm Castings. Students test worm castings for content using a soil testing kit or through a 4-H extension office. Students use the worm castings to plant seeds, hypothesizing which castings will best sustain plant growth and why. Collaborative groups of students may choose to work again with their partner groups at the other school.

    4. Lesson Four: Decomposition, Soil, and Life Cycle Research. Students conduct background research on the decomposition process, soil composition, and the life cycle using the resources provided here and directed Internet searches. This research can help students answer any questions that may arise out of the Worm Bin project. It can also enhance the content of the presentations students will develop in their collaborative groups in a later lesson.

    5. Lesson Five: Presentation of Findings. Students compile and format their findings from the Worm Bins, the plant activity, and from their Internet research into "scrapbooks." They may wish to prepare their scrapbooks graphically, pictorally, or in written form; schools that have the capability may publish these presentations on the WWW. Students also give short oral presentations of their findings.
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    Relation to Standards

        We have drawn on Michigan state science standards projects and the national science standards projects of the the National Research Council and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the development of this unit. We feel that these standards projects provide excellent guidelines for teachers on how to focus science work in their classrooms. Up to Contents of this Page
    One Computer versus Many

        The lessons in this unit are designed so that students can work in collaborative groups as well as in a whole-class format, the idea being that each group works at a computer with an Internet connection and integrative software. If the classroom has only one computer with an Internet connection, collaborative groups can still be used. In this case, a block of time can be set aside each day for work on the worm bin project and seed planting lessons in which collaborative groups take turns fulfilling their duties. For instance, one day during this block of time, group 1 can feed the worms or plants and note the amount of food. While group 1 is feeding, group 2 can email its partner group at a different school to report on the status of the worms or plants from the previous day or several days ago. Group 3 can discuss the kinds of things they'd like to share with their partner group when it is their turn to email. The next day, groups can switch duties.

        A similar tack can be used for the Internet research and data presentation lessons. While group 1 researches worm, plant, decomposition, soil, and/or life cycle information on the Internet or organizes their data using ClarisWorks or the HTML editor, other groups can conduct traditional library research. They can look in books and magazines to determine if there are any pictures or sounds they'd like to have that might be available on the Internet so that when it is their turn, they can make valuable use of the time. They can also discuss options for presenting their data; when it is their turn to use the computer, they will have developed some semblance of a game plan for working efficiently. Up to Contents of this Page

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