Southeast High School students created cyborg cockroaches thanks to Horace Mann’s P&C underwriting team. The department decided to fund the “RoboRoach” project after hearing teacher Jason Potter speak at a company event about how he teaches some of his lessons.
Potter said the goal of the project was to show students how they can control the left/right movement of a cockroach by the microstimulation of the antennae nerves. Each group got a roach and a box of equipment including electrodes, wires, other electronic equipment and 30 two-inch cockroaches. They built an apparatus that was placed on the back of the cockroach and around the antennae. A receiver was then plugged into the electrodes. Using an app, they stimulated either the right or left antenna, which is supposed to cause the cockroach to move in that direction.
“My students never encountered anything like this before. It was a complex, multi-step procedure requiring exact measurements, careful timing and gentle handling of a cockroach,” said Potter. “It took several times to get right and they had to think hard to make appropriate corrections. It was fun for me to watch because they were being scientists.”
Potter said not all kids liked handling the bugs. But he said the ones who did were engaged in their learning. “I try to make my classes as hands-on and relevant as possible, but this project took it to a whole new level. They worked for days on it.”
The Horace Mann underwriting team donated more than $250 to fund the project.
-Michelle Eccles, Horace Mann