Jumping in a Springtail
(Insect; Order: Collembola, common name - springtail)


Wait for the animation to load completely and play through once. To stop the animation, click on the "pause" button. To see the frame that precedes the paused frame, click on the "previous" button. To see the frame that follows the paused frame, click on the "next" button. To resume the animation, click on the "play" button

1) Lay a small clear transparency sheet over the animation. Use two small pieces of paper tape to secure corners of the transparency sheet to the monitor screen. Use a marking pen to make a series of dots on the sheet that track the frame-by-frame position (starting at frame 0) of springtail's jump. [NOTE: Each frame of motion represents 1/30th second of elapsed time (0/30, 1/30, 2/30 etc)]. Make sure the correct elapsed time is recorded for each dot and make sure the distance scale is carefully recorded on the transparency  sheet.
2) Remove the transparency sheet and lay it on a piece of white paper. Then, estimate the initial velocity at the beginning of the jump, as determined by computing the distance traveled during the first 1/30 sec (distance traveled between frame labeled 0/30 and frame labeled 1/30). Express velocity in units of mm/sec. Covert this velocity into units of body lengths/sec.
3) How much additional height does the springtail gain with each successive frame as the peak of the jump is approached? Explain why velocity changes.
4) How much time elapses between the beginning and the peak of the springtail's jump? 
5) What is the is the full height of the springtail jump in cm?  In body lengths?  By comparison, how many body lengths can a human high-jumper jump? What about a pole vaulter? 
6) Compare the frame-by-frame pattern of distance traveled during the ascent of the jump to the distance traveled during the descent of the jump. Discuss and explain similarities.
7) Consult references to determine the mechanism by which a springtail jumps.

Click here to see non-interactive GIF animation 
Software for controlling interactive animations was developed by TOM DREWES