Organism Observation Lab


  • To observe behavior in composting earthworm behavior
  • To describe behavior patterns in earthworm bahaviors
  • To predict and test for responses to specific environmental changes
  • To generate problems to be tested by experimentation


The purpose of this lab is to use the 4 question approach to generate research problems and hypotheses that you can test using an experiment.

PART ONE: Free observation of behaviors

1) Place a few of your organisms into an appropriate observation container.

2) Spend the next 15 minutes or so making observations of several of earthworms in the container (qualitative data).

detailed drawing of your organism

Describe their movement :

Is it continuous?

Do they start and stop?

Do they lengthen & shorten?

Is it the same for all the individuals?

Do all individuals move the same speed?

Do they rest? 

Where do they like to be?

PART TWO: Generating research problem ideas using 4 questions:

Research project/problem ideas in biology (study of life) are generated by asking 4 questions: 1) What organisms are available for experimenting with? 2) What are the organism's measureable behaviors? 3) What can I change in the organism's environment? & 4) How can I measure that organism's response to the change?

1) List at least 5 measurable behaviors (actions) that you observed in your organisms. (Example: Crickets antennae beat up and down, they turn from left to right, they touch each other, they take laps around the petri dish, & they eat.)

2) What are 5 factors you could change in the organism's environment to affect the behaviors (POSSIBLE INDEPENDENT VARIABLES)? (Examples: We could change the crickets' environments by giving them choices of colors to move over, choices of food to eat, add caffeine to their food, change the temperature of the dish, and play rock music to them.)

3) How could you measure or describe the response of the organisms to the changes (POSSIBLE DEPENDENT VARIABLES) using quantitative data measurements (please give 5)? (Examples: We could count the number of crickets on each color every minute for 30 minutes, we could count the number of times a food is touched by crickets per minute, the # of 90 degree turns per minute, the number of antennae beats per minute, the number of times they touch each other.)

4) Generate from the above lists a list of at least 5 problems that could be carried out by your group. State your problems in the form of: "To what extent will (INSERT AN INDEPENDENT VARIABLE--IV) affect the organism's (INSERT A DEPENDENT VARIABLE--DV)?"






5) For each of the problems you generated in step 4 write a hypothesis (H1 and H0)Always state a hypothesis with direction. Example: "As we increase the amount of light (IV) the plant growth (DV) will increase."

a) H1:


b) H1:


c) H1:


d) H1:


e) H1: