Animal Pride: A Walk on the WILD Side

ASPIRE2 LogoGrade 5

ASPIRE Mentor: Matt Gilbert
We are crazy about animals and all have our favourites.  As a group we talked about a variety of animals and made many observations.   We decided to learn more about our favourites!
Below is the list of animals we chose.  We also are interested in doing some experimentation and dissection.

The Wworm-161203__340ild Things:

Research Question:

  • How does the heart work?
    • Heart rate
    • How much oxygen do they use?
      • Response to temperature
  • How the digestive system works?
    • Internal and external anatomy?
    • Eat dirt or just move it out of the way?
      • What do they eat?=
  • What types of muscles./ movement do they have?
  • Worm movement related to moisture?
  • How do they see?
    • How does that guide they’re behaviour
  • How long do they live?
  • Reproduction
    • anatomy?
    • how many offspring?
    • How developed is the brain?
      • can they feel pain?
  • Age and behaviour/activity
    • Experiment

Movement:  Animals move in a wide variety of ways.  It was interesting to see the skeletal system of our “favourite” animals.  Below are some of the links we used to explore and compare the way our animals moved.
Morphology (The study of the size, shape, and structure of an animal)
Homology (The similarity of the structure or development of different species)

1. structures for movement1.2wing-1Chameleon3. stingray_skeleton:cartilage
Comparing the stucture of forelimbs (Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.)Homologies of different forelimbs (Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.)Chameleon SpecimenStingray skeleton 7244 by zummerfish on DeviantArt
We also simulated how an earthworm moves, using plasticine.


How the digestive system works? After we traced the digestive system of our favourite animals, we realized that all our animals had a lot in common in terms of digesting food.  The WORM, however, has a very simple digestive system.  We created a plasticine model of an earthworm’s digestive system. Can you locate the pharynx, the esophagus, the crop, the gizzard and the intestine?  Next, we plan to learn about the circulatory systems of our animals.

How the heart works?  We learned that not all creatures in the animal kingdom have the same kind of heart.  In fact, the earthworm does not have a real heart at all…but it does have 5 pumping vessels or  5 aortic arches.  Take a look at the website called,  Animal Heartbeats – Every Second  The other sites below will show you that not all hearts work the same way.  Check out the links below:

6 Strangest Hearts in the Animal KingdomDifferent heartsLizard, Snakes, Crocodile and Turtle Hearts
Geggel, Laura. “6 Strangest Hearts in the Animal Kingdom.” Live Science, 13 Feb. 2015."Dynamic Science Education. "ædia Britannica, Inc.

Worm Links:

Earthworm Anatomy
MovementPhysical adaptations for life underground. Science Learning Hub.
How Herman Moves
Heart/ CirculatoryWorm Circulation

Herman's Heart
DigestionWorm Digestion
Digestion by Herman
Herman's Mouth
Worm Digestion
ReproductionHerman - Reproduction

Earthworm Reproduction
Screen Shot 2018-04-21 at 1.24.09 PM
Pin the earthworm with the darker dorsal side facing up.
Video One: External and Internal Anatomy

Video Two: Review and Dissection Guide
Video One : First part of this video reviews external anatomy with a real worm.
Video Two: This video first reviews the internal anatomy using a model and than shows a complete a dissection using a real worm.

Worm Dissection:  As part of our ASPIRE project: Animal Pride: A Walk on the WILD Side we wanted to do a dissection.  We worked hard to learn the anatomy of our animals but really focused on the anatomy of an earthworm.  Once we felt we were ready to do a serious dissection we asked Matthew to guide us through the process.  Below are some photos of our learning.

matt dissectionexternal
long worm

labelled worm
labeled worm
Worm Crawlingam modelAb model
Worm Crawling2am dissectAb dissect
He Modelha modelDa Model
He Dissectha dissectDa Dissect
Br ModelDa ModelAu Model
Br DissectDa DissectIMG_0141Au Dissect
He ModelWill ModelDa Model
He DissectWill DissectDa Dissect

Worm Experiment:  We were interested in finding out what red wigglers prefer to eat, so together we designed an experiment.

Question:  Do worms have food preferences?

Experimental Design:

  • Put potting soil in your shoe box.
  • Divide box in half with a felt pen
  • Weigh two types of food (Fruit or Vegetables
  • On one side (near the edge) put one type ofBox food.
  • On the other half put another type of food.
  • Gather at least 10 worms.
  • Put the worms in the middle of the shoe box.
  • Leave worms overnight. (One Day)
  • Next day find worms
  • Count and record the number of worms on each side of the shoebox
Working on our experiment!Preparing our Shoeboxes.Digging for Worms!
Working 1WorkingIMG_0151
Finding Worms is harder than we thought.

Look at how hard we worked!

Wi BoxAm BoxDan Box
Da BoxAu Boxab Box
He Boxha Boxbr Box


chart (11)

Further Investigations:

Even though we have been studying animals and worms all year we still felt we needed more time.  There is so much to learn.  Setting up an experiment takes a long time.  If we did our “Worm Food Preference” experiment again we would make some improvements.  Some of the changes we would make are:

  1. We would make sure we had more time so we would not have to rush with the set up.
  2. We would make sure the potting soil was damp before putting the worms in instead of adding the water later.
  3. We would choose only the largest worms since it was hard to find all the worms once we left them overnight.
  4. We would run another experiment for a longer period of time. (perhaps for 1 or 2 weeks)  We are unsure whether or not the worm “chose” the side it ended up on or whether it was just where it went first.
  5. When we are searching for our worms using a strainer might help.  We would also put a divider in the box so that we do not accidentally mix up what side the worm was on.
  6. We would make sure all the “food groups were equally represented (collect more data).  For instance, we needed more data where a “cucumber” was the food choice.
  7. Once we found out the 4 top choices it would be interesting to do an experiment with the top picks.



Hi Animal Group!

I was really impressed by your ability to work together on such a broad topic. You each contributed something unique to the project and by comparing the biology of so many types of animals you created a bigger picture of how the form and structure of different animals relate to their different lifestyles. As a group, you developed a nice experiment but then each conducted it on your own to generate an impressive amount of data as a team! Your results do a good job at showing that even animals as simple as worms can carry out complicated behaviours such as choosing between different environments or types of food.

Nice work this year and I’m looking forward to working with you in ASPIRE next year,

Matt Gilbert