A Study of Spider Webs

Lyle Gomarko--Springfield Public School--Springfield, MN
Author Profile


Many people do not like spiders and consider them pests. However, spiders provide a service to humans. They eat many of the insects that bother people. In this 7th grade life science activity, students will study 4-6 spider webs and discover what and how much spiders eat. They will identify the spiders building the webs, collect data and make observations related to the webs and what the spiders eat. They will use the information to develop a conclusion.

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Learning Goals

1) Students will discover where spiders live, what and how much they eat
2) Students will collect data and make observations.
3) Students will use data to construct a graph.
4) Students will use data to make a conclusion about the eating habits of spiders.
5) Students will make a model of a spider web.

Context for Use

Grade 7--any class size--A field exercise done outside of class and then 2 class days to guide students in the classroom--allow 2 weeks--I will use this relatively easy activity early in the school year to help students improve their skills for future open inquiry activities--This activity is to be used while studying insects and spiders.

Subject: Biology
Resource Type: Activities:Field Activity
Special Interest: Field-Based Teaching and Learning
Grade Level: Middle (6-8)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Enhancing your Teaching:Teaching in the Field

Description and Teaching Materials

Students will work alone or with a partner to collect information, but all students will make a lab report for this activity.
Locate several spider webs (4-6). Identify each spider using an insect identification book. Place the information you collect in your science journal. Draw a detailed sketch of each spider's web you find. (To make drawing the web easier, use the same sequence the spider uses to build their web, as explained by your teacher). Form a hypothesis about the size of a spider as directly related to the number of insects it catches. Over a period of two weeks, observe each web daily and record the location of any insects caught within the web on your sketch. Note the date of the catch. Students should prepare a lab report to organize the information collected. Make a table for each spider's web to keep a record of the number of insects collected each day. Then we will use the recorded data to make a graph for each web. Make a list of the kinds of insects caught in the web (use an insect identification book). Use the information to write a conclusion about spider webs. Students are encouraged to take pictures or collect pictures from the internet and magazines to enhance their report.

Teaching Notes and Tips

I have not done this activity before and will try it for the first time this fall. It will be the first open inquiry activity of the school year because insects are abundant in late summer/early fall, thus making studying insects and spiders practical. Since this is the first activity of the year and knowing the difficulty 7th grade students have writing lab reports, I have allotted two class days at the end of the project to help students organize and complete a lab report. I anticipate that the students will need varying degrees of help, some very little and others very much. I plan to use students that have a good grasp of what to do as helpers for the those that struggle.


- The student lab report will be the assessment



References and Resources