This page is about using common field and house crickets to teach skills of observation and measurement. The unit also includes basic information on cricket biology and introduces students to the scientific literature
We are Elsa Salazar Cade and Bill Cade. Elsa was a junior high school science teacher in Buffalo NY and an adjunct faculty member at SUNY Buffalo. Bill was a Professor of Biology specializing in animal behavior at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. We have recently moved to Lethbridge, Alberta, Bill got a job as President of the University of Lethbridge, but the cricket work continues. Together, we have studied crickets and used them in our classrooms for more than 20 years!
The cricket: Gryllus texensis
We believe that field and house crickets are ideal subjects for teaching observation, measurement, hypothesis formation and testing and a variety of skills important in science. Crickets can be easily collected in the field or they can be purchased from various vendors. Crickets perform some really interesting behavior and use sound to manipulate the behavior of others. Cricket behavior is easy to observe and the whole exercise is inexpensive.
This material includes some basic information about crickets, some activities for students, worksheets a two week lesson plan and some ideas on how to integrate this material with other subjects. is presented for use in the intermediate classroom, but it can be modified for use in primary as well as senior and university classrooms measurement, . This exercise developed out of our own use of crickets in our classrooms in both junior high and at the university level. We have presented "Crickets in the Classroom" in Toronto at the joint meeting of the National Science Teachers Association and the Science Teachers Association of Ontario a few years ago. We also presented this to middle school teachers in Buffalo, N.Y. and to teachers from the Niagara penninsula at Brock University. We also spoke to a special workshop for NSTA, when a group of teachers came out to our research site in Austin,Texas and caught us in the act of conducting our research one summer.
Humans have always been fascinated by crickets, mostly because crickets sing. Movie producers add their songs to sound tracks. The Chinese have used them for medicinal purposes, have special cages which enhance the songs, and fight the males the same way people in other cultures fight dogs or cocks. Some people, including us, think crickets bring good luck and, of course, Dickens tells us of the Cricket on the Hearth . Cricket images even appear on ancient cave drawings.
Cricket mating behaviour is especially fascinating. Males rub their wings together and produce a calling song that is species specific. Females are attracted to the song, and the song repels other calling males in a type of territoriality. In many species, males can be observed walking or remaining stationary, very close to a calling male. This so-called satellite behaviour sometimes involves the silent male intercepting and mating with females attracted to the caller. To make matters more interesting, in some species of crickets, parasitic flies have evolved the ability to hear males . They find and lay living larvae on calling males. Males that call and attract females don't live as long as males that spend more time in satellite behaviour. Laboratory experiments show that the amount of time that a male spends calling is, in part, due to genetic influences and the maintenance of calling and non-calling male behaviour in a population is the subject of much research.
Crickets have been widely studied and there is a lot of literature readily available to the teacher and student. These papers and books are intended for various audiences and we have had students both in junior high school and university read publications on crickets. A list of suggested literature is included in the material.
Crickets can be raised very inexpensively using materials readily available in science classrooms. You can collect many species in the summer and fall and a number of "cricket farms" sell them by the hundreds for little cost.
We hope you use these fascinating insects to teach
scientific skills and gain understanding of insects. Please contact us
with comments and questions. Please use the material freely, but we
rights to the intellectual property. (Copyright 1996, Cade, Elsa and
Crickets in the Classroom!
Each of the following links will take you to a particular section in the study.
Where to get crickets, how to keep them and what to feed them!
What are Some Questions We Might Have?
Crickets and Temperature from
Measurment and Graphing of the Stages of the Nymphs
Measuring and Graphing Crickets Worksheet
Tracking the Growth of a Population Worksheets
Crickets: Conducting Observations Worksheets 1 and 2
A Sample Two Week Lesson Plan
and Dark Experiment
Rearing Checklist and More Ideas for Experiments
Cross Curricular Extentions
Recipe for chocolate covered crickets
A couple of cricket scientists below, but check out My Cricket Links for more scientists and websites pertaining to crickets
Other Entomological Links
My Science Links
Interview: Dan Otte a wonderful interview about Dan Otte can be found in Omni magazine
Richard D. Alexander
(Bill) Dr. William Henry Cade's scientific publications
to order crickets
Some of Elsa's Cricket Art work
My Cricket Links
Wow! Singing Insects of North America
PLEASE CONTACT US
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This page has been visited
times since August 25, 1998
Last updated on Tuesday December, 2, 2001