Plasticine Caterpillar Experiment

Live caterpillar next to a plasticine caterpillar.

Plasticine Caterpillar Experiment is an investigative lesson designed by researcher Wendy Leuenberger that allows students to investigate science in the field and integrate Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) science practices in an authentic research experience. Students create life-like caterpillars from plasticine to investigate predation by birds, small mammals, and invertebrates. After developing their own questions and experimental design, students make and then glue their caterpillars to vegetation for short time periods. The fake caterpillars retain identifiable marks (beak, teeth, mandible imprints) following predator attack and so serve as an engaging tool to assess relative predation rates by birds, small mammals, and invertebrates.