Worms and Soil Layers Demonstration!

February 04, 2015 | 10:02 am

Worm

Level: Elementary School Level

Show your elementary students the important role that earthworms play in healthy soil! This demonstration will captivate the students’ attention and enforce your soil science lessons. When teaching students about the essentialness of healthy soil in growing plants, these worm jars will help enforce the concepts about properties of soil, plus air and space in soil.

Concepts for discussion/reinforcement: Healthy soil has air and space; it is not overly compacted. Worms can help with creating space in soil. Soil has living and non-living organisms.

Time: 10 minutes with discussion

Prepare the worm jars 2-3 days in advance.

even more worms

Materials:

Two glass jars or clear plastic containers (locking lids work best)

Worms (Canadian Crawlers can be found in bait shops and are often larger than local worms)

Tin foil to cover the jars pre-event

Carrot

Moist soil

Optional: two or three different colors/shades of soil, for instance potting soil, compost, topsoil, soil mixed with sand

Procedure:

  1. Two to three days before the event, add soil to the jars.
    1. If available, add layers of different colors/types of soil. These layers will be mixed together by the worms and create an interesting visual.
  2. Add worms to one of the jars; the other jar will not have worms in it.
  3. Worm Care: Make sure that the soil is moist, or the worms will dry out. Cover the sides of the containers with tin foil so that the worms will be in the dark. This will encourage the worms to move through the soil, even near the glass.
  4. Add small bits of carrots to the top of the soil in both containers. Over the next few days, the worms will bring the bits of carrots down into the soil. Because of the orange color, it will be easy for students to observe how some carrots were ‘pulled’ into the soil.
  5. Take the foil covering off for the presentation so students can see the wormholes and worms. Remind students to carefully hold the containers with both hands as they pass them around. Concepts for discussion/reinforcement: Healthy soil has air and space; it is not overly compacted. Worms help with creating space in soil. Soil has living and non-living organisms.
  6. Questions for discussion:
    1. What do you see different between both containers?
    2. What have the worms been doing these last few days?
    3. What do plants need to grow?
    4. How do worms help plants grow? They make room for air in the soil, and they help move nutrients into the root zone of plants. Worm casting (worm poop) also provides wonderful humus for plants.
    5. What nutrients in soil help plants grow?

 

How did it go? Nutrients for Life Foundation would love to see pictures from this activity! Email them to info@nutrientsforlife.org or tag us in your social media posts. Twitter: @Nutrients4Life, Facebook: Nutrients for Life Foundation, or #NutrientsforLifemore worms