Cockroach Invasion


It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s … a cockroach? This past week Mr. Zebell’s psychology classes have taken in 12 cockroaches (Jinette, Leonardo, Blarissa, May, Alejandro, AAron, Nikkolai, Lieutenant Dan, Bambi, Chad, Demitri, and Anastasia) as class pets. However, these creepy crawlers aren’t just any class pets. They’re more of a class experiment. With the aid of science and an eager Mr. Zebell, the class has been able to hear the movement of neurons.

A neuron, a nerve cell, has the hefty job of transmitting nerve impulses. These impulses, chemical and/or electrical, are responsible for a wide range of reactions in our bodies. Nerve cells come in the form of sensory, motor, or interneuron. Sensory neurons send messages from the sense receptors, motor neurons send information, and interneurons are responsible for communication.

Imagine touching a hot stove while baking cookies. You would most likely instantly draw your hand back without even thinking about it. This is due to the messages sensory neurons send. These messages take less than a fraction to make it from one location of the body to another. With the help of 12 cockroach friends, the psychology class was able to hear the transmission of neurons by using the legs of the class pets. The choice to use cockroaches was an easy one. Due to certain ethical restrictions, the classes were prohibited from inflicting harm upon animals. So when Mr. Zebell was looking through his animal parts magazine, he searched for an animal that could regenerate itself. “I searched through pages of livers, hands, sheeps, and turtles. I was about to lose hope when it hit me, I can use cockroaches, because their legs grow back.” The classes submerged a cockroach into cold water to temporarily paralyze the animal. The water was then offered as a beverage to Liam Barr. The class took the leg of a cockroach and attached it to a neuron machine. Afterwards, they stimulated the cockroach leg by playing music, then the leg began to move and the class could hear the neurons move. With all the excitement of hearing neurons, “Mr. Zebell was like a child on Christmas morning” IB psychology student Bryan Barker said.