Today, a student asked me if invertebrates sleep. This is the type of question that reminds me how much I enjoy teaching and learning. I have sat through many university lectures, read hundreds of pages of science texts, and taken volumes of notes, but every so often a child makes me look at things from a fresh perspective. I know a lot about invertebrates, but never once wondered if they sleep.
I have gone through hundreds of post-its in my career, many with questions scribbled in a childish hand and then stuck to my computer screen for later investigation. After almost ten years of teaching, I am always impressed by the fresh questions they think to ask. I've learned some interesting things through investigating those post-its.
As you imagine, sometimes we cannot find an answer. In such a case, my favorite resource is the UCSB ScienceLine where "research scientists from UC Santa Barbara answer science questions from teachers and students in K-12 schools."
Some of my favorites asked by my students and answered by UCSB scientists over the years:
1. If a person in a machine travelling faster than the speed of sound cannot hear the noise of a sonic boom, what might a person "see" or not see if they could (hypothetically) pass the "light speed" barrier? What would we, on the ground, see?
2. We've learned that all arthropods have a tough outer covering called an exoskeleton. However, we have also learned that some arthropods, such as "honey-pot" ants and ticks actually expand as they collect honey or blood in their body. Is the exoskeleton able to expand? Do these organisms have a different type of exoskeleton that other arthropods?
PS - In case you too are wondering, it is unclear if invertebrates sleep. (source: Neuroscience for Kids)