“Eewww!!” and “Sweet!” are a few of the comments and exclamations coming from the 7th grade science class prior to Christmas break as the students observed Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. The students investigate and study these “hissers” as part of their “Diversity of Life” study. Prior to this unit, the students have looked at microorganisms, plants and snails. As they continue their learning they move onto more complex organisms with more complex systems and the investigation on cockroaches is near the end of the end of course of study.
Back to the cockroaches, students learn through observation the adaptations the cockroaches have developed like the feelers around their mouths to detect food in the dim light of the tropical rain forest floor. They also note the behavior of hiding under the newspaper in their cage, as they prefer dark to the light as they do in the forest.
The students learn to handle organisms appropriately and no one has to hold them if they do not want to. Most students have a great time having the 6 legged critters crawl on their hand and up their arms. The activity is memorable but is also reinforcement on what adaptations organisms make to survive.