What affects the crawling speed of maggots?

This is an investigation to find out what affects the crawling speed of maggots, there are lots of different variables which could affect the speed at which a maggot might crawl, we will control one of these conditions and investigate it fully to find out its affect. The variable I have chosen to investigate is the surface area of the maggot. I am going to observe how fast different size maggots can complete a set length, and then attempt to draw a conclusion by using precise measurements and observations.

The key variables I will have to observe for my investigation are of course the size of the maggots and their dimensions. Other variables will have to be kept constant however for it to be a fair and exact experiment, these include:

* Temperature of the room

* Dampness

* Light

* Length the maggots will crawl

* Keeping the level of the platform stable

My prediction to the outcome of this experiment is an obvious one, the smaller the maggot is in dimensions, the greater its agility therefore the faster it will crawl. This kind of natural phenomenon is apparent especially in evolution of species.

For example, for a cheetah to be able to survive in the wild, it must be fast so it can catch it’s pray and outrun predators. But this is not the only thing the cheetah needs for survival; it must also have strength (mass) for it to be able to fight other cheetahs for mates or territory. If the cheetah was not large enough it would lose fights and may never produce any cubs and would not be able to fight for territory, if the cheetah did not have sufficient mass or strength, it would not survive and its chain would be broken.

My method for this experiment is as follows:

* We will randomly select 10 maggots of varying shapes and sizes, this is to create a large spread of results, which will hopefully give us a better trend

* Each maggots length and width is measured using the same ruler to keep the investigation fair and precise

* With these measurements we will be able to accurately work out each maggots surface area to a set number of decimal places

* After this we will set each maggot a set distance it needs to crawl, this will be done using a mathematical formula

* Each maggot set distance will be set up along the table, the maggot will be timed using an electronic stop clock as it crawls its set distance. To keep the investigation fair all the variables listed above will be kept constant as exactly as possible with the apparatus available to us.

* After we have all of our results they will be drawn onto a graphs, speed against surface, where we will look at the trends for any anomalies or indifferences.

* Then finally I will write an evaluation to summaries what I have discovered during this experiment.

The equipment we will use for our experiment:

* A 12 inch ruler (the same one to be used for every maggot to keep investigation as fair and accurate as possible)

* An electronic stop clock (Minutes, seconds)

* 10 test tubes (To hold the maggots in whilst not being raced)

* 2 test tube racks (To hold the test tubes upright)

* 2 lengths of wood (To create walls for our track, hopefully this will keep the maggots moving in a constant straight line instead of going off track)

There are certain safety risks we must take into account before we proceed with our experiments.

* Other students in our classroom will be testing the temperature variable, this means they will be using heaters to heat the maggots and also ice. These bring up safety hazards we must avoid, the heaters aren’t protected and could easily burn someone if they were to fall into one, so caution must be used here. Also, the ice cubes are to kept in a container, if one was to fall onto the floor someone could very easily tread on one and slip, which might result in an injury.

Preliminary Tests

For my preliminary tests, I will just test to see how the length of the maggot effected the time it took to crawl a set distance.

The distance will be determined as followed:

L*5 = D

L = Length of maggot

D = Distance for maggot to travel

To keep the test fair, I will keep the following factors the same:

* Temperature (Room Temperature 22.9 Degrees C)

* The maggots we used were all 2 days old

* None of the maggots were wet (This affects their performance)

* All the maggots will travel the same distance according to their size

The results are as follows:

Length of maggot(mm)

Distance Traveled (mm)

Time Taken (Seconds)

13

650

14

15

750

31

14

700

19

12

600

22

18

900

42

12

600

11

13

650

13

11

550

9

15

750

29

5

250

4

Preliminary Conclusion

From the result table above, I can draw the conclusion that In most cases, the greater the length of the maggot, the greater the amount of time it took for the maggot to complete the set distance. Ofcourse these experiments will have been affected by a lot of variables which we could not control, but seeing as these were only preliminary we did not attempt it. Also, I have not shown the speed of each maggot for my preliminary as this was just to test my method.

I will now improve on this experiment by introducing surface area, and conduct experiments to see how each of these factors effected the maggots overall performance.

I will also look at ways to improve my experimental method and list the apparatus we used in order to get our results as fair and precise as possible in our given conditions.

To see how the surface area affected the speed at which a maggot completes a set distance

In order to improve my method of experimentation, I will use a narrower track than before, this will limit the maggot to where it can crawl and hopefully set it off in a straight line, this way we can measure the speed of the maggot a lot more accurately.

Firstly we will create equations for working out the surface area for all 10 maggots. We will work on the principle that the maggots are cone shaped, so the surface area will be worked out in the same way you would work out a cone shape. We will measure the length and width of each of the maggots, then use the following equations to get the appropriate dimensions:

Radius (will be needed to work out later equations)

Surface Area

We measured the widths of the 10 maggots used for the preliminary results and then worked out each maggots ratio, then we worked out there surface areas and took another set of results, again with the same set distance for each maggot. The results are as follows:

Length (mm)

Width (mm)

Distance (mm)

Surface Area (mm )

Time Taken (Seconds)

Speed

13

3

650

86.3938

13

50

15

2.5

750

81.81231

30

25

14

3

700

92.67698

20

35

12

2.5

600

66.10435

24

25

18

3

900

117.8097

41

21.9

12

2

600

52.35988

13

46.1

13

3

650

86.3938

11

59.1

11

2

550

48.17109

8

68.8

15

3.5

750

116.3698

31

24.2

5

1

250

10.9957

5

50

Evaluation

The procedure we used to log our data was rather accurate we thought, the track we used was wide enough to let the maggots run freely but also narrow enough to restrict it turning back on itself or going off track. Ofcourse

Sadly my results cannot be 100% accurate due to uncontrollable variables, such as the temperature, the classroom at anyone time can contain up to 30 bodies, these bodies can very easily raise the temperature of a room, and when people leave the room this will result in a dip of temperature, therefore this variable can never truly be constant or controlled (unless with the use of extra equipment which was unavailable to use)

Due to these uncontrollable variables my results can never truly be precise, but I think that my graphs show clear trends none the less.

There are a lot of improvements that could have been made to my experiment; most of these however would depend on equipment that we quite simply could not have obtained due to the schools lack of funding.

One way which would vastly improve the accuracy of our experiment would be the use of video streaming equipment; with this we could record each maggot making its individual run. We could put these recordings onto a computer and use a program to slow down and very accurately record each run.

After we have these accurate results (accurate to within milli-seconds maybe) we could use Microsoft Excel to create a spreadsheet, which would tell us each maggots speed, surface area, volume and surface area to volume ratio.

A good way to improve my experiment without the aid of additional funding however would be to use surface area to volume ratio manually without the computer. This data would tell me a lot more about how each variable affects the maggots speed and would give good accurate results if plotted onto a graph.

A completely new approach to our experiment would be to use some sorts of movement sensors hooked up to computers, these sorts of high tech equipment would be able to give us a lot more freedom of choice.

Also, control over a room with central heating would be an ideal way to keep the temperature exact, giving compensation for human body heat.