Invertebrate Movement and Jet Propulsion





Name of Activity

Invertebrate Movement and Jet Propulsion


Emily Ryan and Chris Paetsch


invertebrate movement, jet propulsion, modeling, squids, planes, invertebrate, vertebrate, found materials



Grade Level

K, 1, 2, 3


1 Hour Total

Brief Description

This activity teaches about the differences between invertebrates and vertebrates, engineering modeling, and specifically about how squids and planes use jet propulsion. Students will see slides of invertebrate movement, and then work in teams to model jet propulsion in a hands-on activity.

Lesson Objectives:

To learn about the difference between vertebrates and invertebrates.

To learn about jet propulsion.

Materials Needed:







Preparation and Set Up:

Collect information on vertebrates and invertebrates.

Collect necessary materials.

Arrange students into groups of 2 – 4.

Distribute necessary materials.

Necessary Background

Two organism classifications are vertebrates and invertebrates. A vertebrate is any organism that has a backbone, whereas an invertebrate does not have a backbone. Body structure is an essential component in determining how an organism will move, or its mode of locomotion. In vertebrates, the body can be held upright by the structure of the backbone and any connecting bones in conjunction with muscles attached to the bones. An excellent example that the students can relate to is their own body. They can think about what they would look like without a backbone and how that would affect their movement.

Invertebrates have a variety of methods of movement, different than humans. The most similar movement would be of organisms with an exoskeleton. For these creatures, the muscles do not connect to internal bones, but rather to the outer shell. Examples of these organisms are lobsters, crabs, beetles, and butterflies. From these examples, the students can see that some invertebrates walk and some fly. The worm is a classic invertebrate. It moves by muscle contractions. Many invertebrates live in the water. The currents of the water and the buoyancy make movement easier. The octopus uses the suction cups that cover its tentacles to grab onto rocks and pull itself along. Barnacles and mussels do not have moveable limbs, but they can travel throughout the ocean by secreting cement and gluing themselves to ships, whales, or rocks. Squids, octopus, and jellyfish use jet propulsion to move quickly through the water. They can draw water into their body and then quickly squeeze it out sending them forward. Jet propulsion is used by jets, not with water but with air. Air is drawn in, heated to cause it to expand, and then it is forced out shooting the plane forward. This movement demonstrates how every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Another element to this activity is the idea of modeling nature. In the world around us we can see how many biological functions have been modeled by engineers and incorporated in machines. The claw of a construction truck mimics that of a crab claw, the aerodynamic shape of a dolphin is used in submarines and torpedoes.




Jet propulsion


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