Return of the Cicadas Documentary is Gorgeous

May 30, 2013 by

If you haven’t heard already, The cicadas of Brood II in the Eastern United States will be emerging in the billions this summer. Yes, billions. Science and Biology educators along the East Coast are likely in a state of teacher-nerd joy for the anticipated event. Once the soil temperature reaches a comfortably steady 64 degrees Fahrenheit, the nymphs that have been living underground for 17 years, surviving on the juice of tree roots, will emerge. The six weeks that follow will be an amazing display of evolutionary and biological events. The Return of the Cicadas video by Samuel Orr is a gorgeous 7-minute snapshot of a larger one hour documentary that could serve as a wonderful way to get students curious and excited about the event. It’s embedded below for your viewing pleasure.

The time-lapse elements used throughout the film turn what many consider to be a slightly disturbing, annoying, and otherwise bothersome event (the noise!) into a gorgeously choreographed emergence of billions of lifeforms that occurs only once every 17 years. As a former middle school science teacher, I’m a little geeked for the full length documentary being completed. It seems as though I’m not the only one, as the Return of the Cicadas documentary has already smashed its $3,000 KickStarter goal with a whopping 28 days left! I’m tempted myself to “back” the project at the $20 level in order to secure the HD download of the final film once it’s available this August.

The geeky fun doesn’t stop there! RadioLab has created the Cicada Tracker website, a whimsical portal that includes ways for you to help alert scientists along the Eastern seaboard when the cicadas are active in your area. Funded in part by the National Science Foundation, The Cicada Tracker project includes a complete parts list and assembly instruction for building a soil temperature detector ($80 for all parts) using an Arduino board and parts found at RadioShack. Double geeky awesome!

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