Activity 3.1 - Predictions and Planning about Mealworms Eating (35 min)

Target Student Performance

Students develop hypotheses about how matter moves and changes and how energy changes when mealworms eat, move, and grow and make predictions about how they can use their investigation tools—digital balances and BTB—to detect movements and changes in matter.

ResourcesYou Provide

Resources Provided

Recurring Resources


Print one copy of 3.1 Predictions and Planning Tool for Mealworms Eating for each student. Prepare a computer and projector to display the 3.1 Predictions and Planning about Mealworms Eating PPT and the video. Print one copy of the Three Questions 11 x 17 Poster and display it on your classroom wall. Print one copy of the Three Questions Handout for each student. Retrieve the materials from Activity 1.2. This may include a PPT slide from the lesson in which you typed students’ responses or a photograph of their sticky notes as well as the students’ completed 1.2 Expressing Ideas and Questions Tool for Animals Growing.


1. Use the instructional model to show students where they are in the course of the unit.


The Three Questions will be a review from the Systems and Scale unit, but Level 2 students may still find the questions themselves hard to understand. In particular, they may be unable to connect the three columns in the Three Questions 11x17 Poster Note whether students use facts about matter and energy from slide 3 of the PPT as they try to answer the Three Questions.

During the class, listen to the ideas students offer in the final step of the activity. Do students’ predictions follow the rules? At this point, do not correct student ideas, but listen for what they say about matter and energy in the context of animal growth and movement. After class, use the 3.1 Assessing the Predictions and Planning Tool for Mealworms Eating to compare your students’ ideas with what we would expect to see in Level 4 responses.  

This discussion will show that some students are still at Level 2 with respect to both their ideas about energy and their understanding of the questions. For example, do students have a sense of necessity about the connections between mass changes and movement of atoms? Do they recognize that if the mealworms lose mass, then atoms must be moving out of the mealworms? Do students account for energy separately from matter, or do they suggest that some of the matter in the mealworms might be converted to energy or disappear? You do not need to correct any problems now; they will be addressed through the investigation and Modeling in the Activities to come.


  • Have a designated place in the classroom where students store their 3.1 Predictions and Planning Tool for Mealworms Eating so they can easily refer back to their ideas at the end of the lesson.
  • Expect many students to make the right predictions for the wrong reasons. Note in particular whether they say that changes in the mass of the potato and mealworm indicate that atoms are moving.

  • Refer back to Systems & Scale Predictions and Planning Tool as a model
  • Strategic grouping with strong speakers
  • Provide sentence stems for discussion and filling in the predictions tool
  • Read Three Questions Handout as a group by referring back to Systems & Scale
  • Allow students personal devices to watch the Nina and Daryl video. Allow for slowdown and playback
  • Give examples of answers to the Three Questions and possibly post these as sentence stems for students
  • Keep student predictions in a safe place (notebook or class file)
Extending the Learning

Students can discuss other situations with mass discrepancies. When all animals eat, does the food source lose mass and the animal increases mass? What happens to the mass that isn’t accounted for? Can you think of an example of mass not changing?

Students may also have suggestions for refining plans for the investigation. For example, control conditions that have mealworms without a potato and a potato without mealworms can help them sort out cause and effect in the results of the investigation: How much mass does the potato lose from evaporation? Do mealworms produce CO2 when they have no food to eat? What happens to their mass when they aren’t eating?