The Bowl: Good for Lunch, Not for Worm-Catching


“The Bowl” on WCC Campus

Over these past few weeks, our science class had broken into groups and performed an experiment designed to catch and count worms. The goal of this experiment was to compare the worm population at two different spots on the WCC campus. We chose The Pinewoods and The Bowl for our two sampling spots. One area worked and one didn’t.

Everybody on WCC campus knows what The Bowl is; that lawn that’s surrounded by trees, curves upwards from its center, and has the wooden steps. You’ve probably eaten lunch there or played frisbee. Maybe you just hung out in The Bowl with your friends or were in it for the various festivals and functions that are held there. I think we can all agree that it’s a good place for all of these things. It’s spacious and shaded, but still sunny. However, it wasn’t a great spot    for the experiment we conducted.

The goal of our experiment was to catch and count worms. We poured a ground mustard-water solution on the ground which irritated the mucous membrane that surrounds a worm. This would force them to surface, so that we could catch them. This worked well in the woods, but when we moved to The Bowl, it didn’t work nearly as well. We caught an average of 2 worms in The Bowl, but an average of 6.25 worms in The Pinewoods. Why did that happen?

My first inference was that we simply couldn’t see them. The grass was long and thick, blocking our view of the actual dirt and providing a great hiding spot for the worms. The second guess was that the roots of the grass and nearby trees were sucking up the mustard solution before it could reach the worms and force them to surface. The third inference was that there just wasn’t a lot of worms. The lawn was so well-kept that it didn’t have leaf litter or other debris that worms relied on for nutrients. If there was no nutrient-rich “duff layer” for the worms to feed on, they might not choose to live in the bowl. Also, we only had time to do two trials in The Bowl instead of the four we did in The Pinewoods. This missing data might have skewed our experiment results.

Whatever the reason, everyone in our group agreed that The Bowl was no place for our worm experiment. If we were to do this experiment again, we would choose a different spot on the WCC campus for our second sampling area. We would also either do less trials or make sure we had enough time to complete all four trials in both areas.