Activity: Viewing a Spider Web

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  • Clear, colorless nail polish
  • Slide and coverslip
  • Dry spider web
  • A compound microscope like THIS or any of THESE.

  1. Find a complete, dry spider web. Observe the web for patterns. Different types of spiders use different types of construction techniques. Sketch your builder's style.
  2. Take note of the spider on the web (if it is still there). If you have a spider book, see if you can identify it.
  3. Paint the center of a slide with clear nail polish. Don't goop it on, just a thin layer is needed! The area painted should be about the size of a cover slip. Let it dry for about a minute, but not much longer. Do not touch the nail polish or you will spoil the surface meant to capture the web.
  4. Holding firmly, place the slide on an interesting part of the web (usually the center of the web is the most interesting). Now pull the slide towards you (with the web attached we hope!), then carefully remove the rest of the web with a stick or a brave finger, being careful not to get it stuck to the polish area.
  5. Without delay, cover the slide with the cover slip. Press it down carefully so as not to break the delicate cover slip.
  6. Take the slide inside to the microscope. Make notes and sketches on what you see at each magnification available on your scope.

Questions for thought
  • From what you saw under the microscope, why do you think an insect cannot escape from a spider web?
  • How do you think a spider learns to spin a web?
  • Find a book or encyclopedia and see what you can learn about different types of webs.


Lila Lind, Home School Mom (10/98)

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