Investigating the Nervous System

Barbara J. Baker Doolittle West Primary

521 East 35th Street

Chicago IL 60616

(773) 535-1050


To investigate which end of an earthworm is more sensitive to odors, light and sound. This lesson could be used for students who are kindergarten through seventh grades.

To investigate why you can't tickle your own foot

Materials Needed:

Paper towels, cotton swabs, flashlights, nail polish remover, vinegar, earthworms and graph paper



After placing the earthworms on a paper towel, students will work with a partner to investigate how earthworms respond to stimuli like snap of the finger, clap of the hands, singing the scale in a high pitched voice as well as a low pitched voice. One partner will be responsible for recording what reaction the earthworm made to each of the above sounds. The above steps would be repeated with the other partner recording.


An investigation of how the earthworms respond to the flashlight rays beaming on the front and the rear of the worm. The responses will be again recorded on the graph paper.


Dip the cotton swap in nail polish remover. Place the swap near the worm’s brain, middle of body and the end of the worm. Record the responses. Place some vinegar on the other end of the cotton swap. Now place the vinegar soaked swap near the worm’s brain, middle of body and the end of the worm. Note and record what responses occurred.

Performance Assessments:

The oral discussion will illustrate that the students understand the earthworm has no eyes, that is why there was no response to the flashlight on any part of the earthworm’s body.

Reading and interpreting the graph on the responses of the earthworms to various sounds.

The earthworm does not a nose but they have a nervous system that responds to stimuli such as odors.

Students will draw the brain, nerve cord and nervous system of the earthworm by looking at the handout.

They will explain why when the worm is cut in half both sections of the body continues to move.

The answer is each body segment also has a mass of nerve tissue that controls activities within the segment.


200 Gooey, Slippery, Slimy, Weird and Fun Experiments. Page 34 by Janice Van Cleave Henry’s Sports & Bait Shop, 3130 S. Canal Street, Chicago, IL 60616