Students design and construct devices to trap insects that are present in the area around the school. The objective is to ask the right design questions and conduct the right tests to determine if the traps work .
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- International Technology and Engineering Educators Association: Technology
- D. Identify and collect information about everyday problems that can be solved by technology, and generate ideas and requirements for solving a problem. (Grades 3 - 5)  ...show
- E. The process of designing involves presenting some possible solutions in visual form and then selecting the best solution(s) from many. (Grades 3 - 5)  ...show
- F. Test and evaluate the solutions for the design problem. (Grades 3 - 5)  ...show
- National Science Education Standards: Science
- Next Generation Science Standards: Science
- Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost. (Grades 3 - 5)  ...show
- Design and build structures based on provided criteria and materials.
- Follow the steps of the engineering design process to create a prototype insect trap.
- Discuss the environmental issues surrounding the creation of an insect trap.
- Discuss how engineers would be involved in the design of an insect trap.
- paper, regular weight or construction (include several colors, including the color that the target insect is attracted to), 2-3 times the number of teams in the class
- markers, any kind and any color, 4-packs (for students who wish to add designs on their traps)
- plastic cups, any kind, 1-2 per team (include several colors, including the color that the insect is attracted to)
- 1 ball of string
- plastic plates, large and small, any kind, 2-3 times the number of teams in the class (include several colors, such as yellow, white and red, making sure to include the color that the insect is attracted to)
- 1 large box Popsicle sticks
- masking tape, 2 rolls
- 75 drinking straws
- scissors, inexpensive but sharp
- 1 box Q-tips
- 1 bag cotton balls
- food items to act as lures, whatever is specified as the material(s) that attracts the insect, for example: vanilla, coffee, soda
- assorted building materials, such as wire, screen, cardboard, twist ties, foil, tape, glue (items that might help students create imaginative insect traps)
|entomologist:||A scientist who studies insects.|
|insect trap:||An object used to catch insects.|
|odor cues:||Smells or scents that attract organisms.|
|pheromone:||A chemical passed through scent that triggers a(n innate) behavioral response in another member of the same species.|
|prototype:||An original, full-scale and functioning model of a device or product that is used for testing to help designers learn what works (and what doesn't work) and make improvements towards achieving a final best design.|
|visual cues:||Colors or shapes objects that attract organisms.|
Before the Activity
- Does the insect fly?
- Is the insect attracted to color?
- Is the insect active during the day or at night?
- What does the insect eat?
- Does the insect sting or bite?
With the Students
- Remind students that they are working for an engineering firm that will design a trap to capture these insects in the region.
- Mention some overall design requirements: The traps must be strong enough to withstand natural elements such as rain and wind, but still relatively simple to move and set up. They must be able to be opened up to permit frequent removal of trapped insects.
- Show students the supplies available for building the trap (hold them up as you review the items). Let students know that this is an open-ended design challenge and they can use some or all of the different items available to them: cups, paper, tape, string, plates, food items (to act as lures), markers, scissors, cotton balls, Q-tips, Popsicle sticks, straws, etc.
- Direct students to follow the steps of the engineering design process while they create their prototype traps. Write the steps on the classroom board:
- With a partner, create a list of many ideas for your new insect trap.
- Compile your ideas into your best design to develop into a prototype.
- Create a drawing of your trap on paper. Indicate dimensions and materials.
- Remember that you are capturing a small insect, not a big animal. Make the dimensions of the trap no larger than 12 in x 12 in.
- Show the design to your teacher for approval.
- Using engineering skills, build a prototype insect trap to help homeowners, farmers and entomologists capture live insects.
- Your engineering team presents your trap design to the class and explains how it works. Point out the features you incorporated to lure and trap the insects.
- Ask the audience for questions and comments about your trap design.
- Think about improvements that you would make to your trap if you could redesign it.
- Always be careful when using scissors.
- Will your trap be efficient at catching insects?
- How many insects will the trap hold?
- What criteria related to insects did you use for designing the trap?
- How will you test if the trap is effective in trapping insects?
- What could you have done differently?
- What would you like to know about the insect before you design your trap? Answer student questions with known information. If students ask questions for which the information is not provided, let them know that it is unknown, and that this is a good research question.
- Questions likely to be asked by students (write the answers on the board):
Activity Embedded Assessment
- Presence of color and odor for attraction of the target insect from a distance.
- Entrance into the trap such that once the insect has entered it cannot escape. Hint: Use a funnel shape at the entrance.
- Mechanism for removal of insects from the trap so that some can be removed alive and released. Hint: Insects are cold-blooded, so they are inactive at low temperatures. If the trap is emptied when it is cool or is placed into a cool environment such as shade, a refrigerator or an ice box, the insects can be removed more easily.
- Adjust the trap size and the planned frequency of monitoring and removal of insects to each other. Given that the abundance of the insect and the ability of the trap in capturing it are unknown, if students plan to check the trap weekly, the trap needs to be fairly large. Students may choose to build a smaller version, but then it might need more frequent monitoring.
- Trap placement. For flying insects, the trap must be suspended.
- Ability to hold up to weather conditions. The materials provided are inexpensive and unlikely to withstand heavy wind, intense heat and light or rain. At activity end, have students discuss what (improved) materials would be best for the final design so that the trap can withstand wind and heat from the sun, as well as any (improved) design modifications so that it can handle the rain and ongiong monitoring.
- Ask students how their designs and insect trap prototypes relate to engineering. Why might engineers be involved in the creation of insect traps?
- Ask students what the environmental and ethical issues might exist surrounding the trapping of insects.
© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2007 Oregon State University
K-12 Rural Science Education Program, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Oregon State University
Last modified: September 4, 2015