Collage of students in the science classroom with the earthworms

This story features a learning activity that took place prior to school closures due to COVID-19.

Some see them as slimy. Others see them as gross. And still others see them as boring. Recently though, earthworms were the center of attention in a classroom at Charles J. Colgan Sr. High School.

When Science Teacher Amalie Eichas started presenting a unit about understanding life in oceans and various phylum, she was determined to find a creative way to teach about the segmented worms found in marine environments. She knew that earthworms are often sold as bait for fishing. Lucky for Eichas, Samsky's Market, a local store near Colgan High School, sells earthworms.

In the classroom, some students wore gloves when handling these squirmy creatures, while some just held them barehanded. Using hand lenses, students observed the earthworms close-up. They watched how the earthworms moved and took note of their external features. This led to a discussion about the importance of earthworms in the soil.

Eichas was excited to provide students with the chance to have a real-life encounter with a living creature that's also an organism that most will encounter at some point in their lives. When they do, she hopes the students reflect back to the class and the real-world experiences she provided.

"I was really surprised how many students had not actually held a worm before. As a kid, I spent hours digging around outside and exploring." I am happy to bring a little of the outdoors into the classroom," shared Eichas.

And in case you were wondering, no earthworms were harmed during this lesson. In fact, instead of becoming fish bait, the lucky earthworms were released into a compost pile, where they will live out their lives creating organic soil.