Calculating crickets


Dianne Cometa (12) shrieks as some of her group’s crickets escape from the bag. Verpooten had to assist the group in capturing all of the escaped crickets.

Emily Badger, Author

Amongst chirps and shrieks, Dr. Dustin Verpooten’s, Science, AP Biology class conducted an experiment on animal behavior using crickets on Thursday, Sept. 15. The goal of this creepy-crawly lab was to determine whether crickets prefer being in a dark habitat over a light habitat.

“Part of the AP Bio curriculum is [conducting] an animal behavior lab, which [students] can do in many forms, but this year we [acquired] choice chambers. We decided to use them because a couple of years ago, the free-response question on the AP exam was about a lab experiment using choice chambers, [similar] to the lab we are doing today. I looked to see what insects would be the appropriate size [for the choice chambers] and the easiest to get are crickets, so I went to the pet store and bought some,” Verpooten said.

Before the experiment began, students were responsible for setting up the choice chambers, which are plastic containers connected by a tunnel that allow insects to move between the two chambers. Once the choice chambers were set up, the students poured the crickets into the tunnel, set a timer for fifteen minutes and calculated how many crickets went to the light chamber and how many went to the dark, tin-foil covered chamber.

“Our results from the cricket lab were 8-8. Eight crickets [went] to the dark container, and eight [went] to the light container. This means that the crickets [my lab partners and I used] did not prefer light or dark habitats,” Emily Lisac (12) said.

Although the class had little difficulty performing the lab, some students found it challenging to pour the energetic insects into the tunnels of the choice chambers. Multiple groups were forced to capture the runaway crickets and put them into the tunnels by hand.

“The experiment was thrilling at some point because one of our crickets got loose. It landed on [Lauren Bulf’s (11)] pants and I had to catch it and pull it off her pants, which was interesting,” Lisac said.