Northland Preparatory Academy Science
Students in Susan Brown’s seventh-grade science class at Northland Preparatory Academy worked with hissing cockroaches, or hissers, to differentiate between qualitative and quantitative observations. Hissing cockroaches, which come from the island of Madagascar, hiss by forcibly expelling air through their breathing pores, a trait that makes them unique in the animal world.
After the students were acclimated to the hissers, they were asked to design an experiment to answer a question they had about the hissers. The students were given the following parameters for conducting their experiments: no hissers could be hurt, experiments had to use materials in the classroom or materials brought in, experiments could be conducted in one class period, and students had to gather both quantitative and qualitative measurements. The students spent two days writing a question/hypothesis, describing their procedures, gathering materials, and preparing for the experiment. Student experiments included efforts to determine if hissers see colors, whether they prefer one type of food over another, and what causes them to hiss. The basic components of lab were for students to ask a question, describe their methods, gather results, and have a discussion/conclusion.
The Colorado Plateau Museum of Arthropod Biodiversity will provide a home to the hissers until next year’s experiments take place. Beyond sharing this wonderful example of using interesting arthropods to teach basic scientific concepts, the CPMAB staff hopes to partner with Ms. Brown in the future to teach a biodiversity lab.