Science Projects

Want to conduct a science project? How about a Science Fair project. Check out the science project ideas below to investigate the world of entomology. 

Elementary School

Can you Engineer an Insect Exoskeleton?(Created by Catherine Dana and Christina Silliman)
Grades: 4 I Time: 45-60 minutesI Cost: <$20-30
For this fourth grade lesson, students will work together in teams to use what they learn about exoskeleton biomechanics to design and build a protective casing.  To complete the engineering design cycle, students can use what they learn from testing their case to redesign and re-build their prototype. 
"These materials are based upon work supported by the 
National Science Foundation under Grant No.0831820
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or 
recommendations expressed in this material are those
of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the
views of the National Science Foundation.”

What’s an insect’s favorite smell? (Created by Catherine Dana and Christina Silliman)
Grades: 4 I Time: 2 hours and 20 minutesI Cost: <$2
This fourth grade lesson will allow students to get an up-close, hands-on look at the insects in their own backyard using a trap they design and create themselves.  Trap designs will be guided by an introduction to the behavior and sensory systems of the insect orders – students will use this information to build a trap and pick a lure (attractant) that will capture their chosen insect order. 
"These materials are based upon work supported by the 
National Science Foundation under Grant No.0831820
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or 
recommendations expressed in this material are those
of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the
views of the National Science Foundation.”

Pests Stay Out! Smelling Your Way to a Healthier Garden (Created by Tasha Kirby)
Grades:3 and 4I Time: 5 to 10 days, two 50 min periodsI Cost: <$31
What household scents will keep slugs, snails and other insect pests out of gardens without harming them?

Are Insect Pollinators Choosy about Colors?
(Created by Ian Grettenberger)
Grades: Elementary School I Time: 2-3.5 hours I Cost: <$30

Are insect pollinators choosy about color? How choosy are insects about flower color? If they are, what colors do you think different groups of insects (e.g. bumblebees) are attracted to. Check out this project to find the answer.

Do Mosquito, Butterfly, and Grasshopper Eat Food in the Same Way? (Created by Sindhu Krishnankutty)
Grades: 3 and 4 I Time: About 1 hour if have materials and specimens I Cost: Approximately $25    

Can these three insects eat food in the same way? With this science project students will learn about the different mouth structures of mosquitoes, butterflies, and grasshoppers and the foods they eat.

Why do Plants Make Spices? Exploring Ecological Roles for Common Kitchen Ingredients.
(Created by Jason D. Smith and Rupesh R. Kariyat)

Grades:  4-10 (although the language of these instructions is suited to students in grades 7-10 I Time: 6 hours I Cost: $1.00

Our kitchen cupboards are filled with various spices that make our eating experiences fun and delicious. Where do these flavors come from? Check out this project to find the answer.   

Investigation of the Diversity of Nocturnal Insects
(Created by Kenwyn Cradock and Darren Pollock)

Grades: Elementary, Middle, and High School I Time: 2-4/5 class periods I   

Cost: Approximately $37

During the evening hours have you noticed that many insects are attracted to the outdoor lights of your home? Have you ever looked closely at how many different types of insects are present? Explore these questions.. you may be surprised at how many types of insects seem to find that porch light irresistible.

Are Crickets Scared of the Dark? (Created by Alexis M. Barbarin)

Grades: 4, 5, and Middle School I Time: 30 minutes I Cost: $10
Do you think that crickets prefer light or dark places? Find out by conducting this fun activity.


How do Caterpillars Choose the Right Leaves to Eat in a Big, Green World? (Created by Rupesh R. Kariyat & Jason D. Smith)

Grades: 4-10

Your parents taught you not to touch poison ivy leaves, nor to eat smooth red berries because they are poisonous. But what about small caterpillars, which do not get instructions from their parent moths or butterflies? Find out how caterpillars can select the food that is best for them.

Middle School

The Diversity and Food Preferences of Foraging Ants (Created by Matan Ben-Ari)
Grades: 5 – 8 I Time: 2 hours,I Cost: ~$10
How many different ant species or ant genera forage in the home or school's vicinity? What type of food will they be attracted to? Would some ant species be more efficient foragers than others?

Is predator-free the way to be?(created by Ian Grettenberger)
 1 Grades: 4 – 6 I Time: Two 45 minute periods,I Cost: ~$50-60
In this lesson you will learn to explain how insects provide environmental services to humans, develop ability to use insects in inquiries and provide examples of insects’ investigative value, and understand and provide examples of insects’ economic value.


Are Flying Insects Differentially Attracted to Certain Colors?
(Created by Kenwyn R. Cradock)
Grades: 8 – 12 I Time: 2-4 hours I Cost: ~$12

When flying, how do insects interpret and perceive their world?
For  example, how do insects such as aphids find plants when they are flying high in the air column? Find out more with this experiment.


Do Different Seed-Eating Animals Choose Different Types of        

Seeds? (Created by Maggie Douglas)
Grades: 7 – 9 I Time: more than one week I Cost: ~$20-$40      1   
Many plants reproduce by making and spreading seeds.      
Some of these plants are weeds that are troubling for us       because they compete with the plants we grow for food.

Weeds often produce many seeds but only a small number

     survive – what happens to the rest? Find out  


Effects of Temperature on the Rate of Development of Insects (Created by Paul Akwettey Ayayee)
Grades: Middle school I Time: between 1-2 weeks I Cost: < $30

The rate of insect development from eggs to adults is usually

related to the temperature of their environment, since they are cold  

blooded. Some insects develop faster than others in the same

environment. How does environmental temperature influence the time

it takes for an insect to develop from egg to adult? Find out.

Grades: Middle School I Time: 1.5 hours to conduct the activity I Cost: <$10
Insects are generally small, and much smaller than most animals we are familiar with including mammals, lizards, birds, and fish. Why are insects smaller than many other animals we see on earth?
Find out by conducting this
science project.


Why are Aquatic Beetles & True Bugs Found Only in Fresh Water
(Created by Carrie Owens)
Grades: Middle School I Time: 1 hour to conduct the activity I Cost: <$10

Why are diving beetles, giant water bugs, water striders, and water scorpions located in fresh water as opposed to salt water or polluted water? Conduct this science project using items found in your home.

How Does Plant Richness Influence Arthropod Richness and Abundance? (Created by Matthew Richardson)

Grades: Middle and High School I Time: 2-3 43-minute class periods I Cost: < $1 per student

Many arthropods use plants for food and shelter. Areas that have a greater number of species of plants, such as natural areas and gardens, seem to have more arthropods than areas that have few species of plants, such as agricultural fields and grass lawns. Through the science project, students will find out if the number of plant species in an area influence the number of arthropod species as well as their abundance.



High School

Exploring animal behavior through eight eyes (Created by David A. McKinney)
Grades: High School
The goal of this lesson is to teach one of the oldest skills in science, the art of observation. This exercise will demonstrate the foundation of the ethological study of an organism, which is generating a list of behaviors and the time spent on those behaviors. This exercise will train students in their observational skills. Though not experimental in nature, observation is a necessary precursor to experimentation.    

Honey Bee Behavioral Ecology: "Does Floral Color or Size Influence Pollinator Visitation?" (Created by Daniel R. Schmehl)
Grades: High School I Time: Approximately 4 hours I Cost: $20-$40
Honey bees forage on a wide variety of species of flowers in order to collect pollen and nectar for food. Pollen is the primary protein source for bees, while nectar is the primary energy source for bees and provides them with energy for worker tasks and queen reproduction. Nectar is produced by the plants in order to attract specific pollinators. It is important that pollinators are attracted to the flowers to ensure successful bee visitation to the flower. In this experiment students will find out if floral color or size has an influence on pollinator visitation.

Do Human Activities Negatively Influence Insect-Parasitic  

Nematodes in the Soil?
(Created by Harit K. Bal & Parwinder S. Grewal)
Grades: High School I Time:15-20 days I Cost: $25-$100

Do urban landscape management practices negatively influence beneficial nematodes in the soil? Check out this project idea to explore if human activities can have a negative effect on biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides.

Forensic Entomology- Using "Corpses" to Learn about Succession (Created by Alexander Ko)

Grades: High School I  Time: 2-6 weeks

Many insects process dead animal remains and often use decomposing animal remains as a key state in development. Succession is a predictable order of invasion and colonization by organisms. Forensic entomologists often use theories of succession and information regarding colonizers to determine various facts about a discovered corpse/body. This project will help students explore such questions as: What insects will first colonize a slab of steaK? And, What is the order of succession of insects after the initial invasion of primary colonizers?

How do the Patterns on Butterfly Wings Develop?
(Created by Paul Bardunias)
Grades: High School

Butterflies display diverse and beautiful patterns on their wings that can alternately make them harder for predators to see and more attractive to members of their own species. Find out more by conducting this experiment.

Ugh Stink Bugs (Created by Karen Sondak)
Grades: 9-12 I Time: Set-up 1 hour I Cost: $45

We live in a world that is surcoming to invasive species. In this science project students will find and observe the Marmorated Stink Bug. It was observed that this stink bug was uncommon in Montgomery County Maryland just three years ago. Since that time, stink bugs have become more numerous. Now you can see hundreds of these bugs in attics, clinging to door screens, or on outsides of buildings. What common household items can be used to control Marmorated Stink Bugs? Conduct this project to find out.

The Best Scent Attractant for Drosophila melanogaster
(Created by Hannah McKenrick)
Grades: High School 

Invading fruit flies are a big threat to today's produce growers and are pests to fruit-lovers. Many field experiments have tested baits and traps for fruit flies, with surprising findings. This experiment will help uncover what types of fruit small fruit flies are attracted to the most. Will the fruits tested have differing numbers of fruit flies?

Other Projects to check out

      "I Walk the Line!" The Termite Activity Revisited

      Expanding the Elementary Insects Program within Urban Areas in Texas



Entomological Society of America 3 Park Place, Suite 307
Annapolis, MD 21401-3722
301-731-4535, x3012 | Direct dial – 240-696-3741 | cstelzig@entsoc.org

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