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Class Crickets

Brain and Behavior Class Participated in a Cricket Lab

Photo by Julia Luck/Maclay Andalusian

Chirp, Chirp, Chirp. Upper school science teacher Ariel Evans held an electrophysiology lab in her brain and behavior class on Oct. 27. The purpose of the brain and behavior class is to introduce students to the field of neuroscience and the study of the brain. It provides an overview of areas of the brain, cells of the brain and how our brain turns sensory input into our perceptual experience. Evans has been teaching the course for six years now and has been conducting the cricket lab for five.

“My favorite part of this lab is being able to take something we learned about in class and make it real,” Evans said. “There’s a big difference in understanding between seeing a picture of an action potential in a powerpoint and seeing one happen right in front of you.”

The point of the cricket lab is to trigger action potentials in the cricket leg by brushing it with a toothpick. Each brush will cause neurons in the cricket leg to activate, and this shows the change in electrical activity using a specialized program. The speed and pressure of brushing or tapping will show different patterns of neuron activation.

“This year’s cricket lab went really well,” Evans said. “Everyone was able to trigger a response from the crickets. Some years it can be difficult to get a response, so I usually keep this lab as more of an exploration rather than an investigation with an expectation of results.”

Evans hopes to do more labs on this unit to really show students how electrophysiology works. In addition, students are able to get a better understanding of the topic and have more fun learning the material.

“We were able to hear the neurons working in the crickets’ legs and we could see the action potentials happening on Mrs. Evans’s screen which was interesting,” senior Lawre Bradley May said. “I feel like I understood what we were learning more because I could visualize how sensory affected action potentials.”

Once the lab was complete, the groups were able to discuss their different results with each other.

“I think it [the lab] was very interesting, kinda gross, we had to pull crickets' legs out of its body which was crazy,” senior Olivia Bishop said. “It was still very cool and fascinating.”


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Andy Poll

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