Wiggley Worms

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Biology In Elementary Schools is a Saint Michael's College student project from a course that ran between 2007 and 2010 and fully described in this book chapter. The student-created resources have been preserved here for posterity. Link under 'toolbox' for printer-friendly versions of the exercises. Click on handouts to print full resolution versions. Please see Wikieducator's disclaimer, our safety statement, and the Creative Commons licensing in English and in legalese.

Wiggley Worms

Student worthiness

Recently tested with great success, the students loved the experiment and it is still going on in the students classrooms. We predict that the worms will have a good influence on the plant's growth but only time will tell.

Primary biological content area covered

This will expose the students to how plant growth is affected by worms.


  • 2 Liter Soda Bottle (1 per group)
  • Gravel
  • Sand (any type except Perlite)
  • Bedding Material
  • Dark Potting Soil
  • 1 pie plate or any type of water-catching plate (For each group)
  • 1 piece of tin foil for each group
  • 4 Earthworms for each group
  • Electric Drill (optional)
  • Utility Knife
 -visit the original site Earthworm Ecosystems: What do Earthworms Like to Eat?
  • You will also need seeds of any kind and water.


If there are simple written instructions that students would use during this activity they should be placed here and they can be cut and pasted into a word processing document for printing. If there are mechanisms within this web format to upload more complex documents with diagrams, we will learn as we go.

Description of activity

Each group of students will be constructing their own worm ecosystem in a 2 liter soda bottle. They will be combining soil, gravel and sand in the bottle and then adding a bunch of worms to the material. The students will be planting a seed within the soil to observe how the plant shall grow over time. We will have six 2 liter soda bottles with worms and six 2 liter bottles without worms. The students will be examining how the worms affect the growing of the seed.

Lesson plan

Again see lesson plan for Earthworm Ecosystems: What do Earthworms Like to Eat? The only difference is add a seed to each ecosystem. This will enable the students to record whether there is a difference in plant growth when worms are at work or when they are not.

Potential pitfalls

Make sure to add the appropriate amount of water to the earthworm ecosystem because too much will kill the worms and plants and too little will kill the plant.

Math connections

Students will chart the growth of two seeds; one from a bottle of soil with worms and the other from a bottle of soil without worms.

Literature connections

Cronin, Doreen, August 14, 2003, Diary of a Worm, Joanna Cotler.

Connections to educational standards

This section is used to help teachers track and document the educational standards that the activity meets.

What educational standards does this activity address? Enter the relevant section numbers here. Vermont standards can be found in web links at the bottom of this page. Feel free to add links to other standards.

Next steps

Once you have completed the activity, what other information can be gleaned from the materials and resources at hand? What additional activities could be developed using the equipment and materials you have listed above? What other opportunities to learn can be explored based on student questions and input?

Citations and links

While brand new ideas are very valuable and most welcome here, tried and trusted ideas of others will probably make up the bulk of the material on this site. It is important to respect the copyrights of others, and also to acknowledge their ideas. A full citation to published materials is essential and also useful. If there are online materials that would be useful to supplement your program, link to them from here.

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