Mar 8, 2008

The Day the Silkworms DIE!!

Oh my goodness, I typically don't blog much about things I do at school, but this one was absolutely a first for me....I have to share. So I'm teaching about Ancient China to my 1st and 2nd graders. We study it all year. Well, as some of you may know silk was first discovered by the Chinese...hence the "Silk Road" trading route that bridges the east to the west. I never had any idea where silk actually came from, never really thought much about it. Until this year.

So it starts off pretty innocent. These cute tiny little black worms hatch out of tiny eggs. We probably had about 40 of these little guys that fit all in one little petri dish. They only eat Mulberry leaves, which I don't have, so I have to cook this Mulberry leaf compote stuff for them about every other day (bugger). It stinks too, smells like burned seaweed or something.

Anyway, so they eat and eat and eat and get big and white and fat. More like a caterpillar than a worm. My kids LOVED our little worms. They named them, held them, played with them. After several weeks, these now big, fat worms start making their cocoons, much like a butterfly. If you leave them alone, they eventually metamorphosis into this furry looking moth thing that only lives for a few days. BUT, if you want to get their have to take them while they're in their cocoons, all safe and warm, put them into a big pot of boiling water, and KILL THEM! This is the only way to get the silk undamaged.

Well you can imagine the shock and horror from my little kids when I told them this. NO!!! They were unanimously for...KILL THE WORMS!! :) Unbelievable. So, yesterday was the day they'd all been waiting for. The day of the nasty worm boil. And nasty it was. Most of them turned out pretty cool. We were able to get the silk off (each cocoon has a strand of silk a mile long!!) and find the little pupa inside (looked like a June bug at this point).

But we did have one tragic failure. I guess one of the cocoons we picked to boil was a little "premature." When we boiled him, his silk melted off and all you had left was a soggy looking dead worm. SAD! UUUUHHGGG. Anyway, all of this you never hoped or wanted to know, but there you go! Here are some pics of my kids thoroughly enjoying their boiled silkworm!

Zach's dead pre-maturely boiled worm (love his face....utter disgust!)
Notice Zach in the back thinking they STINK! :)
A now happy Zach with his new ready to boil cocoon

OH MY GOSH....sidenote here: I just went to Google Images to find a picture of a tiny black silkworm to put in this post, and I found pictures from China of silkworm pupa stirfry, silkworm snacks, etc. GROOOOOSSSSSS!!!! And to think Justin and I are going there in just one week! Yikes.


Jonna said...

That's completely disgusting! I'm glad you're the teacher here. I don't think I could've done it!

So-you're going to China??? I'm SO completely jealous! Is it just for a fun vaca? You two get to travel so much! Care to adopt us and take us along as your "children"? I promise not to ask "how much longer till we get there?"...

Diana said...

that is so fuuny. I love that were not are all sad about the worms.