(4th grade, 30-45 min)
The student will use problem solving techniques and critical thinking
skills in order to construct and maintain a home specifically
suited to his/ her insect pet. The overall goals of this activity
are to familiarize the student with ecologically-based concepts
such as niche, habitat and survival requirements of insects and
to reinforce the importance of observation in the scientific method
of problem solving.
Science TEKS (grade 4)
* Complex systems and parts 5a: identify and describe roles of organisms in living systems and parts in nonliving objects
*Complex systems and parts 5b: predict and draw conclusions when part of a system is removed
*Critcial thinking. problem solving, and decision making 3c: represent
then natural world using models, identify limitations
various sizes and shapes of plastic containers (suggestions include 2-liter bottles, juice containers, ice cream buckets, etc)
clear packing tape
netting (pantyhose, tulling, screen, cheesecloth)
other odds and ends such as beads, game pieces for decoration
The student should have previously caught an insect so that the
home created is for that insect. The teacher may need to aid in
cutting, gluing, or taping of materials if child wishes to connect
more than one container.
Have students draw their family house as they see it; that is,
have them create a blue print for their home. Then discuss what
things they all have in common and why these things are included
in most homes. Discuss some of the differences and the benefits
or drawbacks these would have in other homes.
The student is to create a home for his/ her insect using recyclable
materials. The child may use one container or attach several containers
together. The student will need to come up with a method for opening
and closing the container without losing the organism. A watering
system and feeding will need to be devised based on the requirements
of the species. Decorations may be added with markers or gluing
game pieces or construction paper cut outs onto the containers.
In a subsequent activity, the student will search for and add
the necessary materials for the insect to live in its 'condo':
grass, leaves, water, other live insects, bedding materials, etc.
Remind student s to be careful with scissors. Glass containers
can be used with older students, but plastic works better. The
instructor needs to caution students on the type of insect they
wish to catch and keep.
The teacher can show students some examples of other condos from
other students or ones he/she has done after the kids have begun
building. While students are working, begin discussing what kinds
of things should be placed in these condos for their individual
insects: types of food, how it will get water, how to clean the
container. Also, discuss how this home will be related to the
insect's natural habitat.
Students may wish to extend this activity by creating an entire 'apartment complex' for several different insects. Students would have to develop a structure that would maintain different levels of a habitat. It is possible for students to create a self maintaining structure which would represent an enclosed ecosystem. This structure could then be used to illustrate the long range effects humans have when disruption of an ecosystem occurs. For additional related activities, refer to
Bottle Biology by Mrill Ingram.
The students will be asked to explain how their structures fit
with their insects. The students will need to discuss how they
solved the problem of housing a small animal and how feeding and
watering will occur. The explanations will indicate if the students
have understood the importance habitat, food, and shelter have
for an organism. The condominium discussions should also indicate
he use of desired critical thinking and thought processing patterns.
English: students can write out in words how to create the home; have another student interpret those instructions and compare results
Math: students can calculate volume; if they were to build this house to their size, students can work with proportions and geometry
History: skyscrapers or multilevel buildings can be discussed,
why some parts of the country have many storied homes and other
parts have single storied; discuss famous architects and/ or architectural
feats (Wright, expansion bridges, Statue of Liberty); discussion
of indoor inventions to make houses more livable such as indoor
plumbing, refrigeration, storm windows, lightening rods