Global Heartbeat in L.A. High Schools!
In October 2003, nine educators from the Los Angeles area convened at the Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island (CA) for a Global Heartbeat Training Workshop.
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After an orientation to Wrigley and an introduction to the program, it was time for collecting crabs! With Pachygrapsus crassipes (lined shore crab) as the target
species, the teachers set out with buckets and gloves (as protection against those strong, sharp little crab claws!) to search the nearby rocky shore. After enough crabs had been gathered, they spent the night growing
accustomed to their seawater tanks in the lab. Teachers attended a lecture on biomarkers and the importance of environmental monitoring, particularly as it relates to
Global Heartbeat. They were also introduced to inquiry-based learning, another component of the program, and participated in a roundtable discussion on where to find possible funding sources to support Global
Heartbeat in their classrooms. The second day of the workshop began with an optional early morning kayak expedition, and a small handful of people awoke early enough to
see the spectacular Pacific sunrise over Catalina Island.
After breakfast, it was time to go crab collecting again -- this time in the mudflats near the center of the island. Using crabs from this area in the experiments would provide for
interesting comparisons to those collected along the rocky shoreline. Upon returning to Wrigley, teachers listened to an overview of crab anatomy and physiology, and got to
see how the CAPMON system worked in monitoring the crabs' heart rates.
The afternoon was spent designing experiments using the CAPMON system. Teachers and Global Heartbeat scientists interacted with a reporter from the Los Angeles Times,
who spent time in the lab observing the experiments underway. Teachers were asked to give a short presentation on their experimental findings to the rest of the group. Some
of the experiments involved the following comparisons: heart rates of the "mudflat crabs" vs. the "rocky shore crabs," crabs out of the water (emersion) vs. in the water
(immersion), normal salinity vs. hypersalinity, and normal water temperature vs. warmer temperature.
The final day of the training began with a
brainstorming session on how the oceans are related to human health, since this is an underlying theme of Global Heartbeat. A short tour through the program curriculum was given, and teachers
were then asked to review the existing lesson on Oceans and Human Health, and design a new activity or extension that was of particular concern to California. Many of the participants focused on
harmful algal blooms, which are gaining more and more attention from scientists and the media as their impacts on human health become clearer.
Perhaps the Global Heartbeat program will help call attention not only to public health threats like HABs, but to the critical and special relationship we have with our oceans.