HSP Nature Toys www.hspnature.com
505C Grand Caribe Isle
Coronado, CA 92118
Calling all nature lovers! Have you ever stopped to consider your diligent “under gardeners”? HSP Nature Toys has developed a kit for learning about the humble earthworm. The main element of this science kit is a double-sided viewing unit with light shield and lid. While sturdy enough for our family’s use, the Styrofoam frame could be picked away bit by bit if unsupervised fingers were so inclined. The viewing windows are thick, clear plastic, and the black light shields are thin but durable. A thin plastic lid with air holes keeps the worms in. I do wish the unit were a little better built, especially since it is not inexpensive.
The next most important item is the stock certificate to send for 200 live worms, three types of soil, food, and earthworm castings (for growing experiments). Please note that you will need to pay an additional $7.95 for shipping. Allow two to four weeks for delivery.
A black-and-white guidebook explains the set-up procedure. While you are waiting for your worms to arrive in the mail, you can conduct the five tests described in the guide. You will need to provide some newspaper, sand, backyard soil, and gardening compost. Discover what the different elements of soil are, how much air space is in soil, how water penetrates soil, which kinds of soil sticks together best, and how to determine the Ph level of soil.
These tests are followed by nine challenges to try once your worms arrive. Find out how long it takes a worm to burrow into the ground, which parts of a worm are sensitive to touch, how a worm moves, and more. Most of the necessary supplies are included in the kit (a small plastic magnifying glass, a rubber measuring worm, litmus paper, plastic growing cups, and seeds). The rest of the necessary supplies come in the mail with the worms. Our family enjoyed learning about worm castings, which come with the worms. We planted some seeds in our backyard soil and some in the worm castings to observe the difference in plant growth and health.
Support materials include a double-sided, black-and-white poster with plenty of worm information. One side shows worm anatomy: its external structures, muscle system, organs and functions, and reproductive system. Each section is clearly labeled and described in detail. The reverse side is in question-and-answer format; this side was too cluttered with information for my comfort. At my library, I found a Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out science book called Twist, Wiggle, and Squirm that suited my family better. Another supplement is a two-foot-long cardboard cutout of “Super Squirmin,” a cute, colorful worm with five different cutout hats for each of his five jobs: super hero, soil engineer, master recycler, pirate of the deep, and magician. My children liked playing with Squirmin’ and explaining his different jobs as they changed his hats.
This kit would be fun for those who garden or otherwise like worms. We all enjoyed watching the worms tunnel and come up for food; they were more active than I expected. Surely, the humble earthworm is an industrious and obliging creature that deserves a bit of attention. This kit should make your study easy and fun!
-Product Review by Heather Jackowitz, Contributing Writer, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, June, 2006