1998 WWLPT Biology Institute: Motion
Inquiry in Science Using an Animal Behavior Model
Anna Gary Mary
Comments or suggestions welcome, click on above name(s)
Science as inquiry, guided and facilitated learning, authenic accessement,
managed learning environment, develop community of science learners, cross
disciplinary applications possible, appropriate manipulation of data, quantification
and articulation with math curriculum, original analysis. This series
of labs addresses Content Standards A,C, E and Teaching Standards A-E.
References including Web addresses
Science Education Standards
planaria, inquiry, scientific method, memory, animal behavior, flatworm,
The Planarian (Flatworm) can be used in many inquiry
based laboratory activities. They live in fresh water and can be
maintained easily in culture in classrooms or in freshwater aquaria.
The educators in this project have designed a sample inquiry activity to
determine if planaria can be trained and to determine if the learned behavior
can be transferred to other planaria. Click
here for a brief summary of this project.
To introduce students to and involve them in designing and carrying out
a controlled scientific experiment
To introduce students to animal behavior
To illustrate the importance of biological macromolecules in all areas
of living systems
Instructor's Objectives to
Target Audience or Age Group
Biology and Life Science students (7-12)
Planaria may be obtained easily from most biological supply companies (Carolina,
Wards, etc.) and may be kept alive in
the jars in which they come or in freshwater aquaria. They may be
fed raw liver once a week. Be certain to change the water after feeding.
Order planaria cultures 2-3 weeks before they are needed and schedule them
to arrive as close to the start date of the experiment as possible.
Use pond water or artificial
pond water made according to the protocol in the Materials list.
Do not use water from the public water supply as it contains chemicals
and ions that may kill the planaria.
Move the planaria from the stock culture jars to the maze using a camel
hair brush instead of pulling them up using a pipette.
the Teacher: to top
Pond water or artificial pond water
Camel hair brush
Materials & Equipment Needs
Flashlight or light source
Image from http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/platyhelminthes/platyhelminthes.html
The Student Lab to
Observe a planaria without a microscope and with a steroscopic microscope
Make a drawing of the planaria
Describe the motion of the planaria
Describe the eating habits of the planaria
Gather research information about planaria's various body systems and behavior
Design an experiment to explore one aspect of planaria systems or behavior.
Click here to see an example of our inquiry
Methods of Evaluation/Assessment
Students present a research proposal
Class Presentation of student research
Written Laboratory Report
The effect of electrical field (they tend to move away from the anode and
towards the cathode) on the motion of a planaria.
The effect of a current on the motion of a planaria (Most species tend
to move with, rather than against, the current).
The effect of wavelength on the motion of a planaria (planarian are colorblind
and typically insensitive to the red end of visual spectrum).
The effect of light on the motion of a planarian (Planarian tend to move
away from a light source).
Do all species of planarian react the same ?
Are planarian capable of classical conditioning ?
Does temperature effect the motion of a planaria ?
Ideas to top
Including Web Addresses to
Block, R.A, and McConnell J.V., Classically conditioned discriminatio in
the Planarian, Dugesia dorotocephala., Nature, 215,
Sept. 30, 1465-6, (1967).
Corning, W.C., and Freed, S., Planarian Behaviour and Biochemistry, Nature,219(160),
Corning, W.C., and Ratner, S.C., Chemistry of Learing, 1967.
Dogmak, G.F., Memory Molecules, Current Topics in Cell Regulation,
5, 77-97, (1972).
Hegner, R.W., and Engemann, J.G., Invertebrate Zoology,
Macmillan Company, 1968.
Hullett, J.W., and Homzie, M.J., Sensitization effects in the classical
conditioning of Dugesia dorotocephala, Journal of
Comparative Physiology and Psychology, 2, 227-230 (1966).
Jacobson, A.L., Fried, C., and Horowitz, S.D., Planarians and Memory, Nature,
209(23), 599-601, (1966).
Jacobson, A.L., Horowitz, S.D., and Fried, C., Classical conditioning,
pseudo-conditioning, or sensitization in the Planarian, Journal of Comparative
Physiology and Psychology, 1, 73-9, (1967).
McConnell, J.V., A Manual of Psychological Experimentation on Planarains,
The Worm Runners Digest, Second Edition 1967.
Slavin, R., Educational Psychology, Allyn and Bacon, Fifth ed.1997.
Cognition and Learning Page - This page is maintained by Dr. Robert
Cook of Tufts University who does research on memory in pigeons.
It contains a large amount of information including links to infomation
on history of cognitive theory, animal and artificial intelligence, animal
perception and echolocation in bats,classical and operant conditioning,
and a great link to optical illutions, a great resouce.
to Learning Theory Sites - a collection of links to interesting sites
ranging from tutorials on operant and classical conditioning to how to
toilet train your cat.