Hands-on Science: Firefly Fun

We received a Kiwi Crate in the mail last week and the craft/activity included was a firefly Fireflies are so summer -- spending a warm night outside trying to scout out their little lights in the dark.  Many kids love to spend a summer evening hunting, catching and releasing them.



Here's some fun hands-on science activities to do with fireflies.


A few firefly facts:

  • Fireflies are also called 'lightning bugs'. 
  • They use their light to attract a mate. 
  • Fireflies make their own light - they have special internal organs for this purpose - this     is called 'bioluminescence'. (Fun word to try and pronounce)  There are also sea creatures that live in the dark areas of the oceans that have this ability.


Firefly Necessities ~ a screened-in bug house and a glow-in-the-dark bracelet!


Go on a Firefly Hunt

First, I recommed a night outside!  Have kids watch for fireflies and record or talk about what you see.  How many fireflies did you find?  When did they start to show up (usually after dusk) and why?  Were they flying or sitting on something?  There's so much kids can learn just through observation.

You may want to look for fireflies in different locations.  You might start in your backyard one night, visit a neighbors yard (one with more or less trees/plants would be a good comparison), and also visit a park, pond or other outdoor area.


Quick!  There's a light -- firefly alert!


Become an 'Official Firefly Watcher'

If you're planning to spend some time looking for fireflies this summer, the kids may want to become 'official' Firefly Watcher (your real title would be a 'citizen scientist').  The Museum of Science in Boston asks people from across the U.S. to spend some time watching and reporting their firefly sightings. 

It's easy to register, and kids can keep a field journal to record the days & times they are watching, how many fireflies they see, what color is their light (yep, fireflies have different color lights) and more fun observations. 

One of the reasons for this project is that scientists are concerned that fireflies are becoming more scarce.  There's still much to learn about where they are seen each year and why populations are getting smaller.


Books about Fireflies

The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle - a cute story about a firefly looking for a friend.  He sees a lantern, headlight and other things that he think might be a friend, but it's not until he finds another firefly that his light begins to glow!


Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe - a Reading Rainbow book about a young boy who catches a jar full of fireflies.  But as nigt approaches, he realizes that he must set them free.


Sam and the Firefly by P.D. Eastman - What happens when an owl calls out for someone to play at night?  Gus the firefly shows up and all kinds of humorous antics insue!


Fireflies in the Night by Judy Hawes & Ellen Alexander - a great non-ficiton read-about-science book that tells the story of a little girl who visits her grandparents in the country and learns about fireflies.


Fireflies by Megan Bryant - an All-Aboard Science Reader, this book shares all kinds of fun facts about fireflies and how to make your yard attract more of the glowing bugs.

 And for some really scientific details on fireflies (great for tweens & teens) and 'bioluminescence', check out this firefly article at How Stuff Works.


Have you spent an evening watching for fireflies this summer?

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May 26 2019
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