There are three characteristics that taxonomist use to classify the invertebrates in the phylum arthropoda; segmented body, jointed appendages, and an exoskeleton. There are five classes of arthropods and the students are comparing and contrasting two of the classes. Class Diplopoda contains millipedes and Class Chilopoda is centipedes, together they make a subphylum called Myriapods. My students observe the similarities of the centipede and millipede, but also quickly discover a main difference, the way in which they obtain energy. Centipedes are aggressive carnivores and millipedes are shy detritus eaters.
Students research both behavioral and anatomical characteristics of the millipede and centipede and complete a venn diagram in groups. Then they transfer their work to a large table on the wall which displays the results of their compare and contrast work. The real excitement came when we brought out our class millipedes. The favorite is Milli the millipede which has been a class pet for 6 years. The children made a path for them using their hands and had the opportunity to watch their hundreds of jointed legs walk in a rhythmic and symmetrical motion. It was so fun to watch the students!