I don't recall that AIDs was considered quite the threat it is now when the book was written. (Of course, consider the book was probably written a good two years before published.) Also there are now other blood threats out there like hepatiitis, etc that I just don't recall as being that big a deal.
I am surprised that they did this into the 90s though.
We did this in high school biology (I won't give you the year). IIRC, we did it to figure out blood type. But you can also do blood glucose which is an easier test. It gives you a little real world type biology experience. They now make synthetic blood for schools so they can do some of these same experiments. I would have preferred this, as I dont' think I actually got up the nerve to stick myself.
Estes doesn't make cricketnaut rockets (anymore), so maybe it started wtih them? (I looked for them on the Estes site). The 1983 article has that as an important part of Space Camp that that would be a test of good rocket building (if your payload lived). They launched crickets and even bees. (I think they woudl be terrified of bees and lawsuits now.) Of course, it may have had as much to do with Estes rocket design and luck. Of course, I don't know. If Space Camp wanted a cricketnaut rocket, I think they'd give Estes enough business.
In the promotional video I have, they don't mention cricketnauts. They rockets shown had a transparent nose cone, so maybe it was just too hard to put the critter in there and maybe it got suffocated as well.
Estes does make an egg rocket though. I think that would be fun!
Did any one go to Space Camp as a younger kid?