Insect Inquiries

Allen Nelson John P. Altgeld
1340 W. 71st. Street
Chicago IL 60636



The main objective of this lesson is to develop in the learner a curiosity
about the insect world. Students will collect and observe insects native to the

Materials Needed:

Collection Materials Model Construction potatoes 2' square piece of plywood knives 4 (1' by 12') wood strips spoons 8 tack nails trowels paint (optional) data sheet masking tape petri dishes glass jars with lids hand lenses markers/crayons drawing paper Strategy:

Collection Technique 1. Allow the students to design their own insect. Have them draw their insect on paper and label the parts. The students must describe the function of these parts. 2. Brainstorm on the following questions. What body parts do insects have? Where do insects live? How can we catch insects to observe? 3. Cut a potato in half lengthwise. (For younger students you may want to have this already done.) 4. With a spoon, hollow out the center of each potato half to form a cavity. 5. On each end of these cavities make identations or entrances to your potato traps. You will want to make sure that the indentations are about halfway above the center of each end. 6. Place the potato halves back together (you can wrap the halves together with masking tape) to complete the trap. 7. Locate the spot you would like to use to collect and, with your trowel, dig a depression in the soil. The area should be deep enough so that the potato traps' entrance is level with the ground surface. 8. Place the potato trap in position. Soil from the depression can be left to one side to fill in after you are through with your collecting. 9. Check your potato daily to record the kinds and number of critters in your trap. 10. Transfer your critters to a petri dish or glass jar. 11. Observe your critters with a hand lens. 12. Record your observations. Model Construction ROLLY POLLY DOWNS 1. Draw a circle (2" diameter) in the center of the plywood. 2. Arrange the wood strips in a spoke-like pattern around the circle. 3. Nail the strips in place. 4. Paint your model to resemble a race track. Label the model "ROLLY POLLY DOWNS." 5. Allow the students to race their critters. First one to the circle wins! 6. Remember to release the animals after you have completed these activities. Performance Assessment:

At the completion of these activities, students will be able to answer the
following questions:
1. Which animals in your trap are attracted to the potato for food?
2. Which animals are there because they are attracted to its moisture, a
water source?
3. Which could be there just for shelter?
4. Could any of the animals be there to prey upon the other animals in your
5. If traps were set in forests, fields, marshes, etc. would we find
different animals? Are there animals that seem to live in all areas?
6. Predict what might happen if we had buried the potato deeper in the ground.


Zuckerman, Karen. One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato Traps. Celebrating Science. Honors Science Teachers of Illinois. 1990.
Mitchell, Andrew. The Young Naturalist, An Introduction to Nature Studies.
London: Usborne Publishing Ltd. 1982.
Hickman, Pamela. Bug Wise. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing
Company. 1991.
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