Grade Levels
6-8 9-12
Authors / Developers
Bonney D Johnson JC Hupton G; Central Arizona Phoenix LTER
Time Required
4, 50- minute class periods at least
Teaching Tips
Teacher will need to preview activity carefully and decide how to organize and execute the four parts of the activity. Teachers will want to become familiar with the study animal before the lesson begins. This lesson is best completed as a guided inquiry where teachers walk students through the process described and highlight the critical points. Teachers will want to read the Advanced Preparation section for items and topics to share with students during the duration of the lesson. And also decide ahead of time how to obtain their specimens.
About The Science
In this lab activity students design and conduct an investigation on a specific behavior of black widow spiders. Other arthropod species could also be substituted. This lesson walks students through the scientific process from initial observations to analysis. Activity designed and supported by the Central Arizona Phoenix LTER. Activity is lab (classroom) based.
Pedagogy Annotation
Activity is series of four lessons that begins with structured observations of arthropods then proceeds to the design of an investigation asking students to collect data and complete an experiment. Activity ends with an investigation analysis and presentation of results. Activity is loosely presented so teachers will need to tailor to their own use. All student worksheets are provided Prerequisite skills are alluded to but not specifically included are safe handling of black widow spiders. A teacher would want to explore these before embarking on this activity with students. Alternatively the lesson can be taught with other arthropods such as pill bugs wolf spiders and crickets to name a few. This lesson accurately walks students through the often confusing steps of experimental design. Careful attention is given the steps leading to hypothesis and prediction formation addressing the common misconception of the oft-taught hypothesis statement being an If___then____because___ statement. Lesson is engaging because insects are a natural motivator for students. Please be aware of cautions in handling black widow spiders since safety guidelines are recommended but not included. Ethical treatment of animals mentioned but guidelines not offered.
Technical Details/Ease of Use
A loosely place-based activity -- teachers will need to tailor to their classrooms. Given teacher background, could be adapted to different locations. LTER staff states it is willing to help teachers set this up.