Beetle Dissection

Beetle Dissection - Education

This activity is designed with a pre-assessment tool, a main activity walk through, several worksheets to choose from, and a post-activity assessment. It is recommended for high school students, in grades 9 or above.

For younger grades, we suggest allowing students to work on the Build a Beetle worksheet, explore the dissection with a teacher, work through the Beetle Dissection worksheet, and discuss what different body parts might be used for.

Side beetle illustration


Teachers may adapt the materials to suit learning goals for middle school through college students.

Tips for Classroom Implementation

Time required: The entire lesson, reading assignment, and worksheets should take around six hours for students to complete. Ideally this would be split into three days, with the pre-assessment (Build-A-Beetle) and reading on day one (1 hour), the virtual dissection and associated worksheet on day two (3-4 hours), and the x-ray worksheet and post-activity assessment on day three (1- 2 hours).  

However, the activity can also be utilized as a single 1-2 hour activity, with students using the virtual dissection tool and answering either the Pre- and Post-dissection worksheets or the Beetle Dissection worksheet.

Classroom set-up: Ideally students will work individually during the pre- and post-assessment activities. They may work individually or in pairs or small groups for the virtual dissection, depending on the number of computers available to the class.

Underside beetle illustration


If the class does not have computers for students, the teacher can lead students through the dissection on a projected version or smart screen. If a classroom has no computer access, teachers can print worksheets in advance and find descriptions for most of the beetle parts in the worksheet packet. Note that the virtual dissection functions on tablets and phones.

Tips: It may be helpful to explore the virtual dissection on your own before your class uses the tool. Reading the associated article pages will also help give you background on why studying insects is important.

Objectives: After the lesson, students should be able to:

  1. Explain why insect physiology and anatomy are important to understand.
  2. Describe the major body systems of beetles (and more generally, insects).
  3. Describe the function of major body systems of beetles and how this compares to human systems.
  4. Understand general animal body plans and what body functions are widespread among animals.



Next Generation Science Standards

Middle School

MS-LS1-3. Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells.

High School

HS-LS1-1. Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms.

Common Core Standards

High School


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions.


By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

View Citation

You may need to edit author's name to meet the style formats, which are in most cases "Last name, First name."

Bibliographic details:

  • Article: For Teachers
  • Author(s): Jon Harrison, Meghan Duell
  • Publisher: Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: January 14, 2016
  • Date accessed: May 21, 2024
  • Link:

APA Style

Jon Harrison, Meghan Duell. (2016, January 14). For Teachers. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved May 21, 2024 from

American Psychological Association. For more info, see

Chicago Manual of Style

Jon Harrison, Meghan Duell. "For Teachers". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 14 January, 2016.

MLA 2017 Style

Jon Harrison, Meghan Duell. "For Teachers". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 14 Jan 2016. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 21 May 2024.

Modern Language Association, 7th Ed. For more info, see
Dissected beetle

In the Beetle Dissection, your students will explore the inside and x-ray views of scarab beetles.

For the full set of activities and worksheets, download the Beetle Dissection Packet (PDF).

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