Science students take a closer look at the symbol of Japanese summer: Cicada

The humming sounds of cicada (or, semi in Japanese) are a classic symbol of summer in Japan. A group of ASIJ science students took a peak into the lifestyle of these fascinating insects before the start of school. Science teacher Greg Spechalske partnered with Mr. Yamanouchi and Ms. Izumi from Rikkyo Niiza High School on putting together a collaborative study between our students  and after much planning, we kicked off on August 30.

The research project started at Rikkyo Niiza High School is a longitudinal study involving cicada. The project was started in 2010 and is in its fourth sampling year. The campus of Rikkyo has been divided into ten sampling sites and every year in August the students collect and count the number of cicada exoskeletons on campus. They are then brought back to the lab and identified based on antenna characteristics and overall size (there are four primary species in Japan). The data is then added to a database.

ASIJ students were excited to collect and identify cicada for the 2014 data sampling.  It was a great experience of working with another school and other interested students on a joint project. We will be starting a similar study here around ASIJ  and will be able to then compare our findings with those at Rikkyo.

One of the highlights was listening to the students interact and ask great extended questions such as: Does the exact date matter to collect data?  What other things influence numbers of cicada?  Do we also look at the weather pattern for the year?  Overall temperature? Rainfall?  Do all species arrive every year or is their different cycles for each species?

Quickly the students realized that doing a real research project in the wild is a much more complicated effort than in a controlled lab setting where variables can be minimized.

We are looking forward to ongoing collaboration this year and in the future with Rikkyo Niiza High School. (Beth Crissy, HS Science)