Thursday, May 13, 2010

Drowning in science




Our latest science experiment was entitled:


Bringing Bugs Back from the Beyond!


By performing this experiment, we learned that some types of insects (But not roly poly bugs, apparently) breath through spiracles on their exoskeletons.  Spiracles are little holes or tubes that let air flow in.  To their uh...lungs?  Trachea?  Something. 

Anyway...bugs that have spiracles can totally close them off so that water can't get in or out.  This is especially convenient if you happen to be an ant and it's pouring down rain into your tiny ant-hill home.  Or if you're a fly that fell into a glass of tea.  Or a cricket stuck on the end of a fisherman's hook trying not to end up in a bass's mouth!

So, to perform this experiment (Cause I know you're dying to play with bugs) you have to:
1. Send your children out to catch bugs.  Ants, flies, crickets, that sort of thing. (Not roly poly bugs!)
2. Fill a clear container with water.
3. Dump the bugs into the water.
4. Ruthlessly hold them down with a spoon until they stop squirming.  (The bugs, not the children!)
5. Don't give up!  Ants will swim!  And climb up the spoon!  And never give up!  You must be stronger than the ants...persevere...be brave!
6. After the little suckers stop moving, hold them under a little longer.  Otherwise they will wake up and start swimming again!
7. Once they've stopped moving and you quit holding them under, they should float on top.  (Except roly poly bugs do not float.  They sink. Straight to the bottom.) 

OK.  Now.  After 5-10 minutes, you should have some dead bugs and a soaking wet kitchen.  Scoop the insect carcasses out of the water gently with the spoon.  Be careful!  You don't want to break their tiny, fragile legs!  You only want them drowned, not crushed.  Lay the insects on a dry paper towel.  They should be looking completely pathetic by now...all water-logged and lifeless. 

Then pour salt generously on top of each bug. 

Yes, I said pour salt on each bug.

What? 

You didn't think it was odd to drown the poor creatures...why would a little salt bother you?

The salt soaks up the water that's in the spiracles. 

After a few minutes, blow the salt off of the bugs.  You may have to gently tap the underside of the paper towel if your bugs are stuck.  By now, if you've used ants for your experiment, they should be wiggling their antennae and moving their legs a little.  Pretty soon they'll get up and start crawling away!

If you've used flies...watch out!  They tend to just jump straight to attention and fly in your face.  (Well, you held them under water, you deserve it!)

And if you chose to use roly poly bugs in your experiment....forget it!  They're just dead.  They won't be waking up. 

I told you not to use roly polies!


 



2 comments:

Hezra said...

ha! love it. You are so full of useful wisdom. I remember doing this experiment with my brothers-- but we did NOT know about other bugs. We only used flies. I love that someone elses house has bugs in rubbermade/gladware containers. The other day I had an empty container on the bar and since I was doing dish gathering, I grabbed it up. Isaiah screamed DONT! Thats my snail. Except there was no snail. So yes, somewhere I have a snail that may have fallen the humane quivilent of a few hundred stories. Wonder if salt could bring him back to life wen we find him?

Hezra said...

ha! love it. You are so full of useful wisdom. I remember doing this experiment with my brothers-- but we did NOT know about other bugs. We only used flies. I love that someone elses house has bugs in rubbermade/gladware containers. The other day I had an empty container on the bar and since I was doing dish gathering, I grabbed it up. Isaiah screamed DONT! Thats my snail. Except there was no snail. So yes, somewhere I have a snail that may have fallen the humane quivilent of a few hundred stories. Wonder if salt could bring him back to life wen we find him?