BugBowl at Purdue includes a cricket spitting contest. The concept is simple. Put a frozen dead cricket in your mouth and see how far you can spit it. The rules are simple and the contest simple to arrange. Every year we have hundreds of participants who enjoy our cricket spitting contest.
As educators, we often worry more about content than context. However, the best educational content in the world could go unnoticed. Events such as cricket spitting have minimal educational content, but such events attract attention and provide a context for other information to get the hearing it deserves.
What is the most important lessons of cricket spitting?
For most people, it is overcoming an emotional fear of insects and putting them in their mouth. People are routinely exposed to unavoidable insect parts in food eaten daily. Most people don’t know that or don’t think about it. Getting past the emotional barrier is important to further learning. This is a subtle message, not an overt theme that we hammer into the public.
The educational content of cricket spitting can be maximized with references to entomological history and cricket biology, however the event will not work if the participants are not having fun. Maximal fun, minimalist content events such as cricket spitting can be complemented by other events that are rich in content. The mix offers ample opportunities to inform an interested and attentive public about a variety of issues including invasive species, endangered species, pets, pests, pollination and Purdue Entomology.