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Worming their way to respect; Library pays tribute to creeping critters.

Byline: Anna L. Griffin

LANCASTER - The largest worm ever found was 22 feet long.

"Don't worry, it wasn't around here," said Tennille "T" Hervieux, an instructor with Mad Science, who was making a presentation titled "World of Worms" at Thayer Memorial Library.

The program, which attracted about 30 youngsters, was part of the library's summer reading series and was sponsored by a grant from the George Progin Estate.

She spoke about the different parts of a worm, called segments, and how worms have two stomachs and five hearts, and can survive if they happen to be cut in half.

"So in some ways, it's good to be a worm," Ms. Hervieux said, adding that there are approximately 15,000 different kinds of worms.

Most worms like to be a little wet because they breathe through their skin and if they dry up, it can affect their respiration and they can die. A group of worms actually live in the ocean, "So they're wet all the time," she said.

Worms like it dark as well and they sense light - even though they don't have eyes, they move away from it.

Several topics were covered, including what worms like to eat (basically, dirt), but more specifically as Ms. Hervieux said, "Stuff that is in the dirt."

"Would you like to eat like a worm?" Ms. Hervieux asked the children.

Several replied "no" until she further explained her question. "No, you're not going to eat what worms eat, but you can eat like a worm."

Ms. Hervieux said most worms don't have teeth. They "eat" by using digestive juices to soften their food to a point where it can pass into their stomach.

She then handed out animal crackers and challenged the children to not chew the crackers, rather try to soften the cracker up in their mouths before swallowing it; a task that wasn't too easy.

While the children were doing this, she explained that with a worm, what isn't eaten is passed through the worm and into the dirt. Ms. Hervieux said that the action of the worms moving through the soil actually helps to improve the soil and the plants in it.

"What passes through the worms helps the soil out. Worms help to move things around in the soil; they let in air into the soil so it gets to the roots of plants - this is good for the plants," she said.

Ms. Hervieux placed several trout worms out for the children to look at using magnifying glasses. She let the children observe the worms for a few minutes and then collected them. She then told them that each one of them was going to be getting a worm to bring home; a worm that they would hopefully remember to place in their gardens.

"This is a little worm house that you can use to transfer your worm from the library to your house," she said. "But I want you to remember to take the worm out of the house and place it in your garden. It doesn't matter what garden - flower or vegetable. You can't keep the worm in this house for very long, and you really do want this worm to be working for you."

ART: PHOTO

CUTLINE: Tennille Hervieux, an instructor with Mad Science, packs up trout worms after presenting the "World of Worms" program at the Thayer Memorial Library, Lancaster.

PHOTOG: ANNA L. GRIFFIN
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 26, 2007
Words:569
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