Worm Wonderland: A Long-Term Observational Project

By Bob Feurer

The Worm Wonderland: A Long Term Observational Science Project

You have been working on observational techniques and the tools which help you make observations. This project is one which will give you reasons to use those skills already learned and will cause you to learn other new ones as well.

The Worm Wonderland will utilize a 2-liter soda bottle and other ingredients to create a microenvironment. In creating and working with your Worm Wonderland you will be asked to do the following:

  1. Work with one other person to create a two person team.  
  2. Each team member will keep a daily log of observations of the WW for the duration of the project. These observations shall:  
    1. Be dated with the date on which they were taken. All observations must be recorded in chronological order.
    2. Include both quantitative and qualitative data.
    3. Be written in a legible manner in your journals.
    4. If absent, the team member absent must copy the observations of the teammate making observations the first day returned.
    5. Observations should contain both anecdotal and graphical data.
    6. Daily utilize all the senses with the exception of taste.  
  3. As a team you will agree an all actions taken that affect your WW before taking such action.  
  4. Clearly label your WW with name and period so no mistakes can be made about whose WW it is. You will not interfere or do anything to anyone's WW for the duration of this activity.  
  5. When obtaining your WW for daily observaLion you will be careful not to jostle or disturb any of the WW's. They are designed to stay upright for the duration of the activity.  
  6. If in doubt whether you should or shouldn't do something check with Mr. Feurer.  
  7. If there is something you can measure, measure it!  
  8. If there is something your can clean, clean it!  
  9. If there is some way you can help, help!

Worm Wonderland Set-up Instructions


  • 2-1 bottle (Colorless ones are recommended but green will work too)
  • scissors
  • markers
  • dark-colored construction paper
  • tape
  • newspapers
  • spray bottle with water
  • sand
  • soil
  • peat moss
  • seeds
  • live earthworms
  • keen eyes and minds


  1. First obtain a 2-L. bottle from one of the bags at the front of the room, remove the label and rinse the inside three times with warm water. The more of the label you can remove the better you will be able to observe during the activity.  
  2. Follow the directions in the handout titled "Bottle Basics-Cutting Techniques" to prepare the bottle. The colored base of the bottle must remain on the bottle for our activities so do not remove it! 
  3. Cover your work area with newspaper. Then, using a 1000 ml beaker or tin can, obtain enough sand from the bucket in the front of the room to fill the 2-L bottle 2 cm above the colored bottle base. (NOTE- If you have a bottle without a colored base fill it to the 8 cm. level!) Level the surface of the sand and return any excess to the sand bucket.  
  4. Warning!!! Anyone squirting, or threatening to squirt, another person with a spray bottle has an automatic half hour detention after school. If a person has been squirted and refuses to tell who did the squirting, they will have a detention! Moisten the sand in the bottom of the bottle with one of the spray bottles. The sand should be moist but not soaking wet. How much water did you add? Determine a means which will tell you how much you added! Include this in your journal!  
  5. Likewise obtain soil and place a 3 cm layer on top of the sand layer in your bottle. Level the top of it as well. Moisten if necessary. Return excess to bucket.  
  6. Obtain from the large plastic bag and add a layer of sphagnum peat 3 cm thick on top of the soil layer and moisten as well.  
  7. Record all pertinent observations from today's activities in your journal! Remember both qualitative and quantitative values. Don't forget things like texture, odors, smells, etc. This project will run for six weeks so it is important that you have lots of observations for comparison later on!  
  8. Put your names and period on masking tape with permanent marker and place one on both the top and bottom of your WW. Place the WW under the light bank in the back corner of the room.  

Day Two

  1. Before beginning, observe your WW. Record any changes and, if there were no changes, record that as well.  
  2. Obtain some grass seed from Mr. Feurer. You should count the seeds. It will take about 20. Observe and record the nature of the grass seeds in your journal. A sketch would be good here.  
  3. Plant these grass seeds in peat layer of your WW.  
  4. Obtain some worms from Mr. Feurer and collect data on each of them. You will only get two today. If more are available you can add them later.  
  5. Obtain some dark construction paper and make a cylinder which covers the "earth" layers. Make it snug enough to stay in place but also so it can be slid either off the top or the bottom of your WW.  
  6. Install your construction paper "cover". You may need to relocate your name tags on your WW bases so they are plainly visible.  
  7. Make any other notes or comments in your journals about today's activities.

Day Three and Beyond

You will be expected to make dally quantitative and qualitative observations of your worm wonderlands. You will also be expected to maintain records of the amounts of water you add, growth of plants, death of worms and other occurrences in your WW. This project will last well into the Spring!

Warning! Do not overwater. That was the major problem last year! The lids on the bottles will maintain moisture levels so your setups won't need to be watered daily!