Centipedes and Millipedes

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Students will compare and contrast millipedes and centipedes with a focus on the similarities between their life cycles.

Big Idea

Centipedes, millipedes, spiders, and snails are extremely different animals yet share basic life cycle characteristics.

Engage: What Do You Know About Millipedes & Centipedes?

11 minutes

I ask students to write down what they know about millipedes and centipedes.  Then I ask them to write down any ideas they have about the life cycles of millipedes or centipedes.

The following prompts can be used to assist students who are having a difficult getting started.  

  • What is a centipede (millipede)?
  • Have you ever seen one?  Where?  If not, why do you think you've never seen one?
  • What do you think they might look like when they are first born?
  • How do you think they might change as they grow?  Do you think they change in size only, or do they undergo some changes in form?  (Clarification, if needed:  Humans do not change in form.  We are born with 10 fingers, 2 ears, and so on.  Those parts grow and may change in shape but they are essentially the same.  A butterfly, on the other hand, is in a completely different form when it first hatches from an egg).

If there is a student who has never heard of either of these animals, I pair them with a student who does have some background knowledge.

Explore: Centipedes and Millipedes

45 minutes

I ask students to watch this short video about centipede life cycles.  You will note that there are some pauses after questions are asked.  This is intentional, to allow for and encourage think time.  After the video I have them fill in the notes section on their student study guide or in their science notebook.  Then they watch it again so that they can add additional details.  Students can easily do this in their their science journal, or they can use this organizer.

Next they watch this short video about millipedes and follow the same procedure:  they answer the questions, take notes, and prepare themselves to fill in the comparison diagram.

Additional Resources About Centipedes and Millipedes

3 minutes

This is the page from which I obtained the photos of the cave centipede instars.  It shows all the stages.