Regeneration: Do Planaria Really Do It?

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Author: Muriel Gerhard



High School

Difficulty of Project



$20 - $30

Safety Issues

Wear safety glasses, apron and plastic gloves.

Material Availability

Materials are readily available from Carolina Biological Supply and the local supermarket.

Approximate Time Required Completing the Project

2 months.  This includes collection, recording and analysis of data, summary of results and completion of bibliography.


To determine whether freshwater Planarian (flatworms) reproduce asexually by regeneration and whether the size of the segment will determine if regeneration will take place.

Materials and Equipment Required

  • Planaria (Dugesia dorotocephala )
  • glass containers
  • 12 glass vials
  • declorinated tap water
  • raw beef liver
  • a sharp knife or razor blade
  • a glass plate or glass cover slip
  • labels
  • a pen
  • plastic gloves
  • apron or old shirt as lab coat
  • safety glasses
  • paper towels


Background Information

On the information level, this experiment serves to acquaint students with current information on the concept of regeneration, an asexual process of reproduction and the various studies that have been conducted on the process of regeneration using the flatworm, Planaria.  For over a century, the use of planaria as a basic specimen has lead to tremendous progress in the areas of genetics and currently in stem cell research. The amazing powers of regeneration demonstrated by freshwater planarians has intrigued scientists and resulted in an explosion of studies. Equipped with this investigation and knowledge the students too are both excited and motivated to not only read but conduct further research in this area.

This science fair experiment also serves to acquaint students with the essential processes of sciencing such as the importance of the use of a control, of identifying dependent and independent variables, of data collection, of pictorial and or graphic presentation of data and of being able to make better judgments as to the validity and reliability of their findings.  They take on the role of scientists and in the process they learn to act as one.

Research Terms

  • flat worms
  • Planaria    
  • regeneration  
  • asexual reproduction
  • anterior
  • posterior
  • Turbellaria
  • free living flatworms
  • parasitic flatworms
  • hermaphrodite

Research Questions

  • What are Planaria?
  • What are flatworms?
  • Where are they found?
  • Why are they considered simple and primitive?
  • Why are they the subjects of a variety of experiments?
  • Of what practical value are studies of regeneration in Planaria?  

Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research

  • What is a control?  A control is the variable that is not changed in the experiment.
  • What purpose does a control serve? It is used to make comparisons as to what changed or possibly caused the change.
  • What are variables?  Variables are factors that can be changed in an experiment.
  • What is an independent variable? The independent variable is the one that is changed in the experiment.
  • What is a dependent variable? The dependent variable is the one that changes as a result of the change in the independent variable.
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