Music of the underworld

Problem Scenario

If you have a pet that tends to get nervous or anxious when left at home alone, is it possible that playing music while you're gone will calm it or help in any way?

Broad Question

Does music affect animal/plant behavior?

Specific Question

Does the presence/absence of music affect earthworm habitat choice?


My hypothesis is that more earthworms will choose the habitat with music playing.

Graph of Hypothesis



Independent Variable:

Presence/absence of music

Dependent Variable:

Habitat choice of earthworms

Variables That Need To Be Controlled:

Soil type
Earthworm and habitat treatment
Habitat size

Vocabulary List That Needs Explanation

Prostomium- the sensory lobe on an earthworm (located on the head)
Phonology-the branch of science and medicine concerned with the sense of hearing.
Oligochaetology-the study of earthworms

General Plan

For my experiment I am going to be testing earthworms to see if they are affected by music. There will be a habitat evenly set up at my house with speakers playing music on one end of the habitat. I will set up my experiment in the living room and make sure nobody is around to mess it up and the temperature doesn't change. The earthworms will be placed directly in the center of the habitat. I will count up how many earthworms move towards/away from the music. Then using the data I can find the conclusion for my specific question.

Potential Problems And Solutions

There are some potential problems I may encounter in my experiment that will need a solution. One is that there is a chance of somebody knocking over or moving the experiment. To prevent this I can tell everyone to stay away from the area. Another possible problem is a change in lighting or temperature. The temperature can be controlled by keeping the experiment in the same spot. To control light, I can place the experiment in front of a window and make sure no other light sources are on. Lastly, different music might effect earthworms differently. I will play the same song continuously so there is no change in tempo or pitch.

Safety Or Environmental Concerns

Environmental or safety concerns in my project include the worms escaping and getting lost somewhere in my house. Another concern is that the earthworms may die in the process of my experiment and I will have to start over. A safety concern is that I will need to wash my hands to keep anything bad from touching the worms.

Experimental Design

Controlled, manipulated experiment

What is your experimental unit?

20 earthworms, 1 song

Number Of Trials:


Number Of Subjects In Each trial:


Number of Observations:


When data will be collected

February 23

Where will data be collected?:

In my living room next to a window

Resources and Budget Table

Number needed
Where I will get this
Estimated Cost
Live earthworms
Box (habitat)
Layer in habitat

Detailed Procedure

1. Get materials
2. Place box by window
3. Tell everyone not to come near experiment
4. Put small layer of soil in box
5. Set up speakers for music outside of the box on one side
6. Place earthworms directly in the center of the box
7. Tally up how many earthworms move towards/away from the music
8. Clean up experiment
9. Make graph of results



Photo List

My photos will be taken during the experiment at my house.

Time Line

February 23- do experiment
March 3- analysis finished
March 8- discussion and background finished
March 22- poster finished
March 29- ready to present at science fair

Data Table

Did it move towards music?

Data Analysis

All Raw Data

See data table


rebe12-1 Final Graph !.jpg


The bar graph is a representation of this data showing the number of earthworms and whether or not they moved towards the speakers. I tested 20 earthworms total and 15 of them moved towards the music. The graph shows that the dependent variable (earthworms habitat choice) was effected by the independent variable (music).


Printed on paper.


My hypothesis was correct, earthworms are effected by the presence/absence of music. There were only five out of 20 earthworms that did not move towards the music.


The data of my experiment proved my hypothesis correct and I was able to answer my specific question. The relationship between the independent and dependent variable is strong because 75% of the earthworms were effected by the music. The experiment was successful with no errors.
My experiment may help our understanding of how animals react to sound waves. Although earthworms have no ears, they still were attracted to the music. In the real world, earthworm farmers can use this information for their worms.
In the future this experiment can be improved upon for further knowledge and benefits to science/society. Instead of using earthworms, other animals could be tested as well. Different kinds of music can be played to see whether the animals react differently to different genres. Hopefully my experiment will benefit in understanding animals.

Benefit to Community and/or Science

My experiment benefits the community and science because if you have earthworms in a garden, music may effect some of them and perhaps playing music to other animals can calm them.

Background Research

Music has been believed to effect animals since Ancient Egyptian times. The Egyptians had started a skill known as "snake charming". They used this for entertainment but also believed that snake charming could heal wounds by pleasing the sacred Gods. Snake charming is still used today in Southern Asia and North Africa. Snakes however are not the only animals who are effected by music. A cellist from the National Symphony Orchestra tested music on a monkey species known as cotton-top tamarins. He played two heavy-metal type songs and two calming ballads. The heavy-metal songs did not affect the monkeys, but when the tamarins heard the ballads they showed signs of emotion such as shaking their heads and slowing down activities. A similar test was done with dogs. The dogs also showed emotions when listening to the music; they were relaxed when listening to classical and more active with rock.
Plants are also affected by music. When classical music was played near the plants, they grew leaning towards the speakers. Although when hard rock was played, the plants leaned away from the speakers. However, in both types of music the plants died if it was played continuously. When the music was played only three hours a day the plants flourished. In the 1950's an experiment was conducted using wheat crops. The music increased the production of the wheat by 66%.
Two groups of mice were to be sent into a maze and try to find their way out. The first group was exposed to the rhythmical sound of traditional voodoo drumming. The second group stayed in silence. When sent into the maze, the first group of mice completed it much faster than the second group. But when the voodoo drumming played for too long the mice became disoriented and were unable to finish the maze. Some say that music has a strong emotional effect on the human soul. If humans enjoy listening to music, than why not animals?



For this year's science fair I tested the question: does the presence/absence of music affect earthworm habitat choice? My hypothesis was that music does affect earthworm habitat choice. Based on background research, other animals were tested with music and in most occasions the animals were affected. My procedure began with getting all materials and putting a large box in front of a window. Then I put a small layer of soil on the bottom of box and kept everyone away from knocking it over. I set up the speakers, turned on the music, and placed the earthworms in the center of the box to find my results. These results proved my hypothesis to be correct because 15 out of 20 earthworms did move towards music. This benefits the community for people who have pets which may be affected by music, and also helps science in better understanding animal behavior and emotions. My project proves that animals can be affected by music.