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Activity: Invertebrate Phylum Project

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:

NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:

NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas:

Become an invertebrate expert and teach your classmates about your specialization. Each team will be assigned an invertebrate phylum. In your team, you will research your assigned phylum to become the experts on that phylum. Then you will use your expert knowledge to teach your class about your phylum.


  • Tables 3.1 and 3.2
  • Reference book and/or internet resources
  • Optional: Specimens and/or live organisms



  1. Your teacher will divide the class into teams and assign each team one of the common invertebrate phyla. Your teacher will tell you how much time your team has to research your phylum and present your phylum to your class.
  2. Explore your phylum. You can use reference books and Internet resources. If you have access to specimens or live organisms, examine the form of their bodies and body parts. Observe how live organisms move.
  3. The goal for the class is to complete Table 3.1 for all phyla. Include information in your presentation about your phylum for the topics in each row of Table 3.1:
    1. body symmetry and organization
    2. segmentation
    3. digestion
    4. nervous system
    5. respiration
    6. locomotion,
    7. reproduction
    8. unique features

For explanations of these terms, see the glossary in Table 3.2.

  1. In addition, your presentation should also communicate the following information:
    1. Get your class interested in your presentation by presenting an interesting fact about your phylum or an organism in your phylum.
    2. How do your organisms
      1. Get food? Where do they fit into the food chain?
      2. Escape predation or protect themselves?
      3. Survive harsh environments or environmental changes?
    3. What are their shared and unique features that cause scientists to group them together?
    4. Think about natural selection and how it may have acted upon your phylum. How are these organisms adapted to be successful, survive, and reproduce?
    5. Do they have any unique or unusual traits or behaviors?
    6. How do they interact with humans?
      1. Are they important to humans as a food or other resource?
      2. Do humans have any other kinds of impacts on them?
      3. Are they dangerous to humans in any way?
    7. Include two questions on your phylum, which your classmates should be able to answer if they were playing attention to your presentation.
  2. Decide how you are going to present your phylum information (e.g., computer presentation, models, handouts, demonstrations, living organisms, slides, specimens and skeletons) and create your presentation.
  3. Complete Table 3.2 during your classmates’ presentations.


Activity Questions: 
  1. Compare each phylum’s body symmetry and organization. How is shape related to digestion, predation, and locomotion?
  2. Compare the reproductive strategies of three phyla. How do the reproductive strategies of these phyla allow them to be successful?
  3. What characteristics separate the more basal phyla (e.g., Porifera) from the more derived phyla (e.g., Chordata)?
  4. Are any adaptations shared across different phyla? Explain why and how organisms that are not related can have similar traits.
Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.