Earthworms Across Kansas

Looking for a new outdoor ecology investigation to conduct with your students?  … something that will require them to get their hands dirty?  … and aid in their learning and appreaciation for our native fauna? 

Then look no further than the new citizens science project, Earthworms Across Kansas organized by Dr. Bruce Snyder at Kansas State University.  As stated on their website and in an introductory letter I recieved a few weeks ago…

Earthworms Across Kansas is a free program that engages middle and high school students throughout the state in answering some basic, yet unanswered questions about Kansas earthworms, such as “Which species are here?” and “What are the ranges of these species?”

The project aims to educate Kansas’ middle and high school students about earthworm biology and invasive species issues by engaging them as citizen scientists.  One-third of the approximately 170 species of earthworms known to reside in the United States have arrived here from another continent.  We expect that most every earthworm your students collect will be an exotic species.

We are currently recruiting teachers to participate (online registration form), although only until we run out of kits.  Once registered, you can prepare for your participation by viewing curricula and lesson plans associated with earthworm biology that will be posted online through May.  In July or August your kit will be mailed, and your students can complete their collecting anytime during the 2010-2011 academic year.  The data from across the state will be uploaded on their interactive google map, and thus facilitate your students answering the basic questions posed by the project.

If you’d like more information about the program before registering certainly visit their website, and if you have further questions, please email the project at

I haven’t read through the protocols for this project yet but thought you may interested in learning from the active worm collectors and the research associated with their methods.  Check out Worm Grunting, Fiddling, and Charming—Humans Unknowingly Mimic a Predator to Harvest Bait published in PLOS.  Besides the article there are a number of interesting quicktime video links demonstrating the research.



Author: Eric Kessler

I am a high school teacher in the Blue Valley School District who has taught a Bioscience Research course at the district's Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) since 2010. Previous to this teaching gig I was at Blue Valley North High School where I taught freshman Biology and Honors Biology, Field Biology, Zoology, and AP Biology for the past 18 years.

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