Let's All Do The Wave

This lesson consists of a cross disciplinary activity incorporating aspects of wave characteristics from Physics, movement traits from Biology, and evaluating locomotion design from Engineering. Students can be introduced to the idea by showing the video Arthropod Locomotion: Engineering from the shapeoflife.org or other videos of animals that exhibit wave-like characteristics during motion. Class discussion can begin by analyzing the necessity to move efficiently and how moving in a wave-like manner could be beneficial. Students then discuss how this motion can be compared to the relative speeds of the animals. This can be done through researching the body length, 𝑙, of each animal, the top speed, 𝑣, and the “wavelength,” 𝜆, of their motion. The wavelength can be estimated by counting the number of wavelengths present and dividing the body length by this number. Students can then decide which values or ratios to plot against each other to properly represent the relationship. The resulting graphical relationship of this data can be analyzed to determine which animals have evolved this trait the best and how this characteristic may be developed in locomotion of machines.
Lesson Plan Files