From ants to butterflies to beetles, there are about 950,000 species of insects on Earth. These cold-blooded creatures come in all shapes and forms and they communicate in different ways. They even move differently: some fly while others crawl or slither.
Insects are fascinating, and students will enjoy learning interesting and unique facts about these creepy crawlers. Check out the following activities to explore insects with your students.
1. Insect Observatory
Give students a chance to take a closer look at insects. With this Insect Specimen Set, they can explore real-life specimens of a praying mantis, long-horned beetle, common tiger butterfly, and chafer beetle. It also gives students an opportunity to learn about organism groups, life cycles and parts of the insects.
2. Cold-Blooded Insects
Unlike human beings who are warm-blooded, insects are cold-blooded, or ectothermic. This means that they cannot maintain a consistent body temperature and they behave differently once their body becomes cold. In this insect experiment, students can see firsthand how temperature affects insects.
What You Need:
- Bug net
- Tall, clear plastic cup
- Paper and pencil
- Access to refrigerator
What to Do:
- Capture an insect using your bug net.
- Place the insect and thermometer inside the plastic cup and cover the cup with mesh.
- Record the temperature, and observe the activity of the insect.
- Place the cup inside the refrigerator until it is 15℉ cooler than the original temperature. What is the insect doing? Has its behavior changed?
- Repeat the entire process at a temperature 15℉ cooler.
- Put the insect back in its home environment. Keep it inside the plastic cup, but remove the mesh cover. Observe how long it takes for the insect to leave the cup.
As its body temperature cooled, the insect most likely slowed down or stopped moving completely. In fact, insects can’t move when the temperature is at 40℉ or cooler. In this dormant state, insects slow their metabolism and conserve energy and revive when temperatures warm up. This is a fun and interesting way to help students explore the uniqueness of insects!
3. Catching Insects
Unless your students have a case of insectophobia, they can head outside and catch their own insect specimens! With these Big View Bug Jars, they can catch an ant, ladybug or even a grasshopper and observe it through their very own observation station. The jars are equipped with a 3.5x magnifying lens, air vents and a screw-on top that resembles ladybug wings. Take this activity a step further and have students record what they see - the insect’s body parts, movements, behavior, etc. - in a STEM journal. They can even swap jars to get a closer look at other insects!
4. Bug Scavenger Hunt
How many different insects can your students find? Create a list of insects, including an ant, bee, spider, and butterfly. Give each student a list and provide them with a clipboard, magnifying glass and pencil or pen. Then send them outside to find every bug on the list! Once the scavenger hunt is over, have a group discussion about what students observed while searching for the insects.
5. Butterfly Metamorphosis
Observing the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly will absolutely “wow” your students. One day, in a process called metamorphosis, a caterpillar will spin itself a silky cocoon or molt into a shiny chrysalis. Inside, it will transform its body and emerge as a butterfly. Students can observe the entire process with a Butterfly Garden Set. It comes with a mesh pop-up habitat, feeding kit, care instructions, butterfly facts, and a coupon for butterfly culture. Students can literally watch life unfold right in your classroom!
As spring arrives and the temperatures begin to rise, this is a great time for students to discover the fascinating facts about insects. Use the activities above to bring the creepy crawlers to life in your afterschool program.