Burpee Explorers to examine worms May 4

Online Staff Report

Burpee Explorers will present “Explore Invertebrates Annelida” from 1 to 2:30 p.m., Saturday, May 4, at Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N. Main St., Rockford.

The event is for ages 6 and older with an adult. Pre-registration and payment are required. Cost is $18 per child members, $20 per child non-members (adult is free). Call (815) 965-3433, ext. 1020, to register.

Annelids are segmented worms. Work with Lumbricus terrestris (a pretty fancy name for the common worm) to learn why these simple creatures are important in their habitats. In addition, get a close-up look at their predator, the frog, and learn of its importance.

We all see these little creatures wiggling on the sidewalk after a rain. Many a child has come to their rescue. In this class, the Explorers will work with several different species of segmented worms. They will learn that segmented worms, Annelida, do not include the flat worms or roundworms. The day’s discoveries will include the importance of earthworms. Actually, the glaciers of the Ice Age eliminated earthworms from extensive sections of North America. Their return is a result of the expansion by pioneers in the settlement of North America. Earthworms greatly benefit agriculture.

The Explorers will work with both preserved specimens as well as live specimens. The students will conduct simple, non-invasive tests to observe the responses of worms to light, temperature and moisture. Each Explorer will receive a preserved earthworm for study. They will examine the external features that allow it to burrow. Their study will also include examining internal features.

Earthworms are amazing creatures in that they actually have five aortic arches that function as a heart. Furthermore, they have a closed circulatory system, like more advanced creatures.

Participants will be using microscopes and performing specific tests to learn the attributes of this phylum. They get to participate in real science.

Burpee Explorers is a once-a-month science class that began six years ago. For 2012-13, these classes have focused on invertebrates. Previously this year, the Explorers have examined preserved and live crayfish, preserved jelly fish, preserved starfish, preserved squid, fresh mussels and fresh pig hearts. The class meets the National Science Education Standards for Life Science.

Posted May 1, 2013

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