A Great Science Activity: Working with Mealworms

The science curriculum I’m using this year suggests letting the kids observe and work with mealworms. This is part of our discussion of what makes something living or not living.  I purchased some from a local pet shop and came up with a few activities for the kids to do as they observe and learn about their mealworms.

Before I even uttered a word, I simply handed the kids their own mealworms and a magnifying glass. They were enthralled for a good hour! I just sat back and listened to them talk to each other and make observations.

P1210181mealworms

We spent a full day just watching and observing the mealworms. Here are some of the activities we did later in the week:

What do mealworms like to eat?

We placed a sliced apple, ground oatmeal, rice and raisins in a container.  Most of the mealworms wound up in the ground oatmeal.

Mealworm-Activity-FoodPreference

Wet or Dry Conditions:
We placed a wet paper towel and a dry paper towel in a container. Most of the mealworms actually wound up under the dry paper towel.  Maybe this says more about light/dark!

Mealworm-Activity-Wet-Dry

 Wet Food-Damp Food:

On a similar vein we placed an apple on top of ground oatmeal and had plain oatmeal in another corn.  The majority of mealworms wound up in the plain oatmeal.

Mealworm Activities DryFood-DampFood

How do mealworms react when you lightly touch their antenna with a toothpick?

Mealworm-antenna-activity

Click here to Download the Free Mealworms Activity Sheet

 

mealworms-activity-worksheet

Most of our activities were either from Dr. Hughes’s mealworm activities or from Scholastic: Mealworms in the spotlight.

Note: If you plan to work with mealworms, do not release them into the environment. They are a non-native species and are considered pests.  Perhaps you can find a friend with a lizard or bird that eats them. Or you can ask the pet shop if you can return them. One source suggests placing them in the freezer for 48 hours to dispose of them properly.

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14 Responses

  1. That is a really cool experiment! How long did it take for the mealworms to congregate around the oats vs the apple and so forth? I did an experiment with mealworms in 6th grade and ours went really slowly (mine actually died). Thanks for sharing the lab sheets!

    • Liesl Den says:

      Actually, the mealworms moved around really quickly when we first got them. They don’t move around anywhere near as quickly (now about two weeks later). So they moved to the different areas within about 30-60 minutes (some even faster).

  2. That is a really cool experiment! How long did it take for the mealworms to congregate around the oats vs the apple and so forth? I did an experiment with mealworms in 6th grade and ours went really slowly (mine actually died). Thanks for sharing the lab sheets!

    • Liesl Den says:

      Actually, the mealworms moved around really quickly when we first got them. They don’t move around anywhere near as quickly (now about two weeks later). So they moved to the different areas within about 30-60 minutes (some even faster).

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