2001 Pilot Project

Over 40 high school students, participating in summer science programs at the Wrigley Marine Science Center, Catalina Island, CA were  introduced to the Global Heartbeat crab monitoring ecological program in August 2001. The students were part of two groups: one a girls' summer science camp and the other a Sea Education Association program of study.

 Dr. Shaw Bamber, of University of Plymouth, UK,  presented the scientific introduction to the crab monitoring program. Shaw gave an overview and described the importance of crab heartbeats as biomarkers of water contamination. He detailed how the monitoring process was conducted, explaining how the infrared sensor worked and how the scientific monitoring equipment was attached to the crab. He stressed that this was a non-invasive procedure that did not hurt the crabs. He stated that this was a simple straightforward procedure , but that it was the nature of the questions asked by the researchers that would contribute to important scientific findings.  He encouraged the students to think about variables that might impact the crab's heartbeat, e.g. sex of crabs, salinity, temperature, pollutants. He stressed the importance of setting the baseline for what is normal for  individual or species in order to later make comparisons.

The lecture was followed by lab experiments , in which the students attached the sensors to the crabs and observed their behavior and watched the monitors to see the heartbeat patterns.  Students  collected data and displayed it on spreadsheets, noting the patterns, determining differences.

During this lab period, Dr. Judy Lemus presented a hands-on lecture of crab morphology and behavior to provide important background information for the experiments to come.

Students also participated in catching more crabs for the experiments. They took measurements of water temperature and salinity in the harbor area, near the research station to get the foundation data for the baseline.

Students then were asked to create their own experiment, determining the questions they wished to ask.    They carried out the experiments, noted their findings, and presented them in reports.

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