Science Investigation with Mealworms!

Done with lab partner Ein Le. :)

Update: Our seeds from the last practical have sprouted! :) 

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Stage 1: Exploration and Discovery

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Mealworms are light brown in colour, for camouflage with the oats they feed on. The have six legs, all located at the front of the body, which are used for walking on flat surfaces. As they are invertebrates, they have an exoskeleton on the outside that gives the body structure, instead of a skeleton on the inside. As the mealworm eats and grows, it will outgrow its exoskeleton and then shed or “molt”. They are about 0.3mm across and 2.5cm long, and are segmented.

Stage 2: Testing Ideas

Do mealworms prefer black or white surfaces?

Aim of the experiment:

To find out whether mealworms prefer black or white surfaces.

Hypothesis:

Mealworms prefer black surfaces to white surfaces.

Materials:

- A half-black, half-white sheet of paper

- A plastic container

- Two mealworms

Procedure:

Firstly, place the mealworms onto the middle of the paper where the black and white parts meet. Next, place a plastic container over the paper to prevent the mealworms from escaping. Afterwards, observe the mealworms to see which side they prefer – if they prefer the black surface, they will move over to it and vice versa. Repeat 2 more times for reliable results. Finally, record observations down.

Variables:

Independent – nil

Constant – number of mealworms, size of paper

Dependent – mealworms’ preference of colour

Observations:

The mealworms first moved to the black side of the paper, but afterwards moved about the two colors, showing no preference for either colour.

Reliability of data:

Our data was not as reliable as due to time constraints, we were only able to conduct the experiment once. 

Stage 3: Preliminary Experiment, Stage 4: Actual Experiment

Instead of doing a single experiment twice, we did two experiments once each, and studied the movement of the mealworms in response to sound and smell.

Sound

Hypothesis:

Mealworms respond to sound.

Materials:

- Castanet

- Tuning fork

- Three mealworms

Procedure:

Place the castanet close to the mealworms and clack it. After repeating this two more times, switch to the tuning fork. Repeat two more times and record down observations.

Variables:

Independent – Presence of sound and frequency

Constant – Location of the mealworms, and distance away from instrument

Dependent – Response of mealworm to instrument

Observation:

The mealworms did not respond to the noise made by the castanet but shied away from the tuning fork when it was moved near them. 

Conclusion:

Mealworms only respond to sounds of higher frequencies.

Reliability of data:

Our data was rather reliable as we repeated the experiment twice.

Smell

Hypothesis: 

Mealworms respond to smell.

Materials:

- one empty test tube

- one test tube with a vinegar-infused cotton wad in it

- a mealworm

Procedure:

Place mealworm into empty test tube for one minute and record down observations. Transfer mealworm to test tube with cotton wad and record down observations again. Repeat two more times.

Variables:

Independent: Presence of smell

Constant: Size and shape of test tube, mealworm

Dependent: Response of mealworm to smell

Observation:

The mealworm behaved normally in the empty test tube, but wriggled away from the test tube with the vinegar-infused cotton wad.

Conclusion:

Mealworms respond to smell.

Reliability of data:

Our data was reliable as we repeated it three times.

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