Insect Olympics (FBCEC)

Summary:

Participants will compare their performance on “Olympic” feats to those of insects. Participants can burn a little energy while understanding some of the amazing abilities of insects.

Grade Level:

4 - 8

Recommended Setting:

Indoor or outdoor classroom

Outdoor Activity:

No

Location:

Fred Berry Conservation Education Center, Yellville, AR

Contact:

Education Program Coordinator, 870-449-3484

Duration:

45 minutes - 1 hour

Suggested Number of Participants:

Up to 30

Special Conditions:

Weather permitting

Objectives:

  • Demonstrate ability to jump, run and carry as compared to particular insects.
  • Use mathematics to determine number of body lengths, speed, etc.
  • Record data in a group table and compare with insect examples.

Key Terms*:

Arthropod

*See glossary for definations

Materials:

Bathroom scale(s)

Cones or ropes (starting lines)

Dry erase board/easel

Paper/pencil

Photos or samples of grasshopper, ant, flea, cockroach, rhinoceros beetle

Stopwatch for each group

Tape measure for each group

 

Background:

The world of arthropods is an amazing one. From the aerial feats of bees to the astounding strength of spider silk, the bug world is filled with incredible abilities. Comparing one’s own abilities to that of the creatures can provide some perspective to the statistics.

Procedure:

  1. Participants should measure their height and weight in metric units.
  2. Participants will perform the following physical activities in small groups and record the results in a table. (Participant Worksheet: Insect Olympics below)
    • Each participant should do a standing long jump from a starting line and record the length of the jump. Divide the length of their jump by their height to determine the number of body lengths jumped.
    • Each participant should run (from a starting line) for five seconds. Measure and record the distance and divide the distance by five to determine speed and by their height to determine number of body lengths they ran.
    • How many friends can the participants carry on their backs? They should place hands and knees on the ground, keeping their backs in the air, then ask friends to straddle their backs one at a time until they cannot hold any more. Participants should record the approximate weight they were able to support. Divide the total weight by their individual weight to determine how many times their body weight they supported.
  3. Participants will compare their results using the information in the participant worksheet.
  4. Discuss the results in comparison with the amazing insect facts in the table. Why do insects win every time? They have more muscles than humans. Humans have about 800, grasshoppers have 900 and caterpillars have as many as 4,000.

Review:

  • How many times their body lengths can grasshoppers and fleas jump?
  • Compare the jumping abilities of humans to insects.
  • Why do insects tend to perform “athletically” better than humans?

Participant Worksheets:

Insect Olympics

Glossary:

Arthropod – invertebrate with an external skeleton, segmented body and jointed attachments called appendages, belonging to the Phylum Artropoda