Opening a can of worms!

S Indumathi

It all started on a rainy day. Students of class 7 were waiting to venture out and play in the rain. During the break, a few curious observers found a lot of earthworms in the top soil. Waiting for an opportunity to investigate invertebrates, I asked if they would like to learn about earthworms. When they agreed, we went on a collection hunt for earthworms. We dug in a shady place under the tree and found a few earthworms; I asked the students, “Where do you think you would find more?” Some wanted to dig under the Neem tree, another group said the middle of the playground would be ideal while yet another group suggested that they would dig near the waste collection and decaying area in the campus. The last group found a lot of earthworms. The class was able to come to a conclusion on where earthworms thrive well.

We collected them in petridishes and the students took these back to the class to observe how they moved, how they reacted to water and to sunlight, their length, their colour, etc., and wrote a small description. I gave them some material to read more about earthworms along the lines of how they are useful to farmers. As they read in groups, I asked them to make note of questions that came to their mind. There were about 20 questions. Some just needed an explanation and then we went on to see how many of the questions could be investigated. Finally four questions were selected for investigation. They were: Do plants grow well in the presence of earthworms? How does the presence of organic waste help the earthworm? How does fertilizer affect earthworms? In which kind of soil does the earthworm thrive well?

The author is now associated with the Azim Premji Foundation, Bengaluru. She holds a master’s degree in Education from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. She can be reached at

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