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A Close-Up Look at Worms under the Microscope

In this microscope lesson, we will be performing an interesting simple science experiment and activity using the microscope. First of all, we will be using both a low power and a high power microscope. Unlike some microscope experiments wherein we only have to raid our kitchen for samples, this time we are going to dirty our fingers in obtaining our next sample. We are going to dig for worms as part of our field nature experiment.

First, we are going to look for a tubifex. A tubifex is a thread-like worm that measures from half an inch to one and a half inches in length. They live at the mud floor of ponds. To obtain one, we have to look carefully at the mud on the bottom of the pond. You will notice that there seem to be a red tinge among the brown. If you look at it closely, you will see that these are actually numerous tubifex.

The tubifex builds and lives in a tube. It buries its head inside the tube while its tails sticks up to the surrounding mud. This worm feeds on the decaying organic matter in the bottom of the mud and ejects its waste from its tail.

Let us gather the mud where a tubifex lives and separate it from its habitat. We can observe a tubifex under low power binocular stereo microscope and we will see that the worm is actually colorless and transparent. The bright red hue that we see is due to the worm’s blood. If there are a lot of tubifex gathered together, it will give the mud a colored appearance.

Tubifex are under the same group as earthworms. Like earthworms, they are divided into rings or segments that can be more clearly seen under a simple child microscope. On each segment, we can see a short hair-like bristles that arranged in a single row on the sides of the worm’s body. They also have curved spines that the worms use in locomotion and are called foot spines. These foot spines may be hard to spot because they retract so it is advisable to compress the worm between a microscope slide and it cover slip. If we look at them under a high power compound light microscope, we will see that these foot spines appear to be curved or forked.

There are also aquatic worms that have so many bristles that they are called bristleworms. A species of these is called Nais that are commonly found in mud, algae, or on the leaflets of water plants. Under a low power microscope, they look like yellowish or whitish in color and we can see how the bristles aid it in moving about. Another species that can be observed under a kid microscope is the Dero. The dero measures not more than quarter of an inch and with an end that is broad and looks like a funnel.

There are many more worms that we can observe by using a child microscope. One of the most common ones that we can find over submerged stems and leaves are flatworms. Flatworms belong to the group of Turbellaria because the turbulent lashing of their cilia that is responsible for their movement. In viewing the cilia, however, we will need a high power compound microscope. If we only need to know the impact of the cilia’s movements, a one inch objective lens can be used to observe the currents in the water that is created by the cilia’s motion. We will see small objects being swept away because of the rapid motion.

One of the most common flatworms goes by the name of Planaria. If we look at these leech-like creatures under a student microscope, we will see that they are velvety black in color and with slender bodies. They have broad heads and a pointed tail and measure about a quarter of an inch long. Another kind of tapeworm is the Dendrocoelum. Under a child educational microscope, they look smaller compared to the planaria and have a creamy white color.

These worms are among the many other worms that we can obtain and observe under a child microscope. While they are interesting as well as educational to examine, we have to be reminded that these are still dirty little creatures that can harm our health. Let us remember to wash our hands after the experiment.

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