Critter Curators is a problem based learning (PBL) lesson that introduces fourth graders to the hands on study of living systems. In PBL, students act as scientists to solve a problem in a real world context. They do so by collecting and analyzing data, and by considering practical parameters or constraints, in order to generate solutions to the problem. In this lesson, the students play the role of museum curator and are given the task of creating an earthworm habitat exhibit for their classroom “museum”.
In order to design the habitat, students must investigate the connections among an earthworm’s needs, habitat, and niche. The lesson is designed with structured inquiry components in which students pursue knowledge about the earthworm’s preferences and needs. In the inquiry portion of the lesson, the central investigation question is: “What are the necessary components of a habitat for an earthworm?” To understand the earthworm’s needs and preferences, students conduct inquiries to make reasonable considerations for the museum habitat. By using scientific process skills to make observations and inferences, collect and analyze data, and communicate their findings, the students carryout investigations which ask appropriate questions, such as “Do earthworms prefer light or dark?” and “Do earthworms prefer hot or cold?.”
Students finally put their findings from the investigations together to design and construct a museum display that showcases the earthworms in their habitat. The lesson emphasizes collaboration and communication.
Download the Critter Lesson Plan.