TERMITE LAB - Biology East Borneo

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TERMITE LAB - Biology East Borneo

TERMITE LAB

Connolly Coyle & Barrett Klein

GK-12, ESI, UT Austin

Objective:

In this lab students will be introduced to insect behavior as influenced by

pheromones. The following will be examined:

* Reactions of termites to a chemical found in their trailpheromone

* The idea of chemical specificity

Preparation:

This lab can be conducted during a study of animal behavior, chemistry

(chemical specificity), or pheromones.

Termites can be found in many dying tree trunks or fallen logs, or ordered

through a biological supply company

(http://www.d91.k12.id.us/www/skyline/teachers/robertsd/supply.htm).

Materials:

Termites (with enough to spare, given inevitable classroom disaster; kept

in a container with slightly damp paper towel to prevent desiccation), Petri

dishes (or something to hold several termites per group), brushes (to

carefully redirect or pick up termites), paper (substrate for our

experiments), paperclips (to serve as a tool to create indentations in

paper, should students hypothesize that termites are using tactile

sensation to follow path), a variety of pens (including Bic® blue, red and

black ink), and a variety of pencils (including blue, red and black).

Methods:

Class Demonstration -

Begin by introducing termite biology. Present images and concepts that

will instill notions of complexity, colonies as units under selection, and

termite behavior and ecology.

Have students gather around, as you present real termites, and proceed

to scribble a line across a large white sheet of paper, using a blue Bic®

pen. Place termites (~ six) on the paper and allow them to wander. A

significant number of the termites will follow the line, even turning

corners, and retracing their paths.


Discuss with students what they notice. Ask students to think of reasons

why the termites might follow the line. Discuss ways to test each of these

ideas.

They are scientists observing a phenomenon that requires explanation,

and testing. They must separate into scientific teams to test hypotheses.

Regroup for conclusion. Poll results and ask for each scientific team’s

conclusions, based on their hypotheses.

Rule out visual (they’re blind; blue Bic® ink lines are followed, but blue

pencil lines are not followed), and tactile (paper clip indentations incite no

behavioral reaction distinct from indentation-free controls). Olfaction

(smell the blue Bic® pen ink) is the answer, suggesting that an ingredient

present in the blue Bic® ink happens to serve as a chemical in termite trail

pheromone.

Student lab -

Allow students to complete lab sheet. Monitor testing to help students

control variables. When groups are struggling, provide example of two

lines identical in all ways except one. Allow students to rule out that

specific variable.


Name_____________________________________________

Termite Lab

Problem:

Why will a termite follow a line drawn on a piece of paper

Background and Observations:

Record your observations from the demonstration.

Hypothesis:

Give at least 3 possible reasons for the behavior you just observed.

Circle the hypothesis you feel is the most likely explanation. You will test this hypothesis.

1.__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

2.__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

3.__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

Variables:

Independent – ________________________________________________________

Dependent – __________________________________________________________

To Control – _________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________

Materials: termites, paper, paperclips, and a variety of pens and pencils


Methods: Write a list of steps you will use to determine if your hypothesis is correct.

1.__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

2.__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

3.__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

Data / Results:

Create a method to record the data or information you collect while running your experiment.

Conclusion:

1. Was your hypothesis supported by the data you collected Why or why not

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

2. What effect did your independent variable have on the termites

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

3. Did any of your classmates test a variable that had an effect ___

4. What did the termites follow ____________________________________

5. Did any test yield no reaction Why do you think this happened

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

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