Particles and Prairies Program and Kit are no longer available.
The Teacher's Guide Sampler is available for former teachers.

Particles and Prairies has been replaced by Energy and Ecosystems.
Teachers who have taken Particles and Prairies are eligible for the Energy and Ecosystems field trips.

This activity was in the 2001 Particles and Prairies Sampler. See the 2006 Sampler

Baked Potato Invertebrate Trap

Table of Contents - Activities:

Invertebrates - Fermilab Quadrat Study - Prairie - School Quardat Study - Baked Potato

PURPOSE: The purpose of this activity/lab is to capture and examine invertebrates in the soil.

OBJECTIVE: Students will identify organisms found in the soil


  • Baked Potatoes - halved - three halves per group
  • Small plastic "baggies"
  • Dissection probes, toothpicks or shish-kabob skewers
  • Hand lenses or dissection microscopes


  • Prepare baked potatoes and place cut side down on a section of moist soil.
  • Repeat in well-drained and dry soil.
  • Allow to remain in place 24-48 hours undisturbed.
  • Remove potato carefully from soil and examine. (invertebrates may have penetrated interior of potato - use probe to examine.
  • Use hand lenses to observe. Classify according to type. (Insect, worm, snail, etc.
  • Collect group data and build conclusion based on all soil types.
    Use student data sheet.


  • Does there appear to be a difference in the type of organisms at each site? Explain.
  • Why might such differences occur?
  • Compare these organisms to those discovered with the Berlese Funnel. Are there any differences? Why or why not?
  • Can you think of any other "bait" for invertebrates? Name at least three. What might you find?
  • Why are these organisms in the soil?
  • Are soil invertebrates considered good or bad? Explain.
  • Did the type of soil make a difference in the number or type of organisms?

Program Contact: Sue Sheehan -
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Last Update: March 6, 2001