Have your class come alive with excitement and wonder! Your students will design their own experiments and beg you to do more!
This is an open ended lab that requires only a little teacher preparation beforehand. The premise that makes it fun and exciting for students is this: Termites will follow a pen line on a piece of paper (Bic or Papermate work well) because the smell is very close to the pheromones of the termites.
The teacher demonstrates this but doesn’t tell the students why. Students will be amazed! I like to show them the phenomenon using a red pen and a few termites on a piece of paper. I draw a circle. Often students will guess the termites like the color red or like following circles. Or they think the termite is following an impression of the pen on the paper. If you have a ELMO projector, or some way to project in real time, all the better! Otherwise you can have students crowd around you while you show them the initial observations at the front desk.
I provide them with plastic projector pages, different color pens and pencils, different color paper, and of course termites. Termites can be bought from Carolina Biological or in the wild if you are skilled at finding them and lucky enough to find them in the wild near you. Carolina sends them in pieces of wood, which you can break open and find tons of termites. I give each student or student group a plastic petri dish with 5-10 termites in it and a paintbrush to manipulate them with.
I like to have them perform 2 experiments, so I make multiple copies of the experiment design page, front and back.
Most students will eventually figure out that only pens work and not pencils, but it takes a more advanced student to “prove” that it is indeed the smell of the pen.
This file includes the following:
1. Student Instructions Page
2-3. Experiment Design/Results Pages (I make multiple copies for students to complete more than 1 each)
4. Teacher Instructions Page
If you have any questions, suggestions, or corrections, please leave a question on the question and answer section of my store and I will get back to you quickly!
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