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2010 Science Project                2011 Science Project
Kids do Ecology, 2010

This experiment was designed and carried out by Ms. Galbraith's 5th grade class at Monroe Elementary School with help from Drs. Christine Petersen and Carol Adair of NCEAS.

After giving the class a short introduction to worms and food webs, the students came up with a hypothesis to test:
Because worms need to be wet (but not too wet) to breathe and survive, we expected that we would find the most worms in wet areas.

To test the hypothesis that there would be more worms in wet than dry areas, we used a gradient of sites from wet to very dry. The students found one wet site (near a leaky sprinkler head),  2 moist sites (in shady areas), and 2 sunny, dry 

Worm grunting (also called worm charming or fiddling) demonstration

To find worms, we used a technique called worm grunting (more information on this method here).

One-meter radius circular plots were set up at each site. In the center of each plot, an 18 inch dowell was set one foot into the ground. A wooden block was rubbed across the top of the dowell to generate a grunting/clacking noise that mimics the sound of moles digging in the ground. This technique caused earthworms to rise to the surface (to escape the moles). All worms within the one-meter radius circle were counted and recorded.
The students found 18 worms in the wet site, an average of 2.5 worms in the moist sites, and no worms in the dry sites.

The students concluded that more worms were present in the wet areas, supporting their hypothesis.They presented their results to other scientists and scientists-in-training at NCEAS on March 25 (below pictures).

More pictures of Kids do Ecology 2010 can be found here.

Banner photo: Mt. Massive in Colorado, 2009