A Better Fly Trap

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In this activity, learners observe fly behavior and then build a flytrap. They make more observations, compare the effectiveness of different traps, and modify their traps to increase their effectiveness. In doing so, learners consider what variables make for an effective trap as well as learning how to study the behavior of an animal. Even pesky flies provide an interesting challenge.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - adult

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 1 piece of fly bait: "ripe" fish, meat, guts, or other fly-attracting food
  • 1 milk carton (half-gallon size)
  • water to keep the bait moist
  • window screen (nylon is best): enough for each kid to cover the long side of a milk carton
  • straws
  • paper plates
  • plastic wrap
  • aluminum foil
  • tape
  • popsicle sticks
  • rubber cement
  • string
  • cheesecloth
  • cone-shaped cups
  • scissors
  • paring knives
  • stapler


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, The Regents of the University of California, 1979

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, SED 72-08523