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Burlese Funnels

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Time: two class periods Setting: schooyard Guiding Questions: Which soil and leaf litter-dwelling organisms live here? How do soil invertebrates vary between different locations - sun vs shade, different types of soil, near invasive plants vs native plants, near a stream vs a meadow, etc.
Overview Type of Organism: invertebrates Habitat: all

Looking at the smaller organisms, such as springtails or mites, helps teach about decomposition and other soil ecology principles.

Materials:
  • 2 liter soda bottle
  • Paper towel
  • Screening
  • Cheesecloth or gauze
  • Desk lamp
  • Ethyl alcohol (optional)
  • Identification sheet. See Life in the Leaf Litter
  1. Carefully cut a 2-liter bottle in half (see picture)
  2. Wet a folded paper towel with water and place it in the bottom.
  3. Invert the top half of the bottle into the bottom half to form a funnel.
  4. Cut a piece of hardware screen, a little bit bigger than the neck of the inverted top, and lay inside the bottle. This will keep the dirt from filling the bottom of the bottle
  5. Gather soil from the schoolyard. Place one cup of it on top of the screen in the funnel.
  6. Position the desk lamp closely over the funnel so that light warms the surface of the soil. To escape the heat and light, the organisms will crawl out of the soil at the bottom and fall into the container below.