Thursday, January 15, 2009

Feeling Shrimpy? We Are.

Here's what we are doing today.

It's the Live Crustacean Observation Lab!
I love this activity, although it's not deep science or highly technogeekable.

It's mostly about stimulating wonder.

Stimulating a sense of wonder in kids who have multiple nature channels on their tv's and whole fantastic virtual worlds on their home computers and Wii's has become a bit of a challenge.

Mostly, they are isolated from real live things beyond their own pets ... and these are country kids!

Surprisingly, dead stuff in jars is still interesting to them ... but not WOW inducing ... not to me anyway, and I need to be WOWED too. I get my WOW's from their WOW's ... sort of a WOW to WOW chain reaction.

Most of these Florida kids have eaten shrimp, but you would be surprised at how few have been up close and personal with a live shrimp. Having grown up tossing castnets for shrimp, eating shrimp, keeping them in aquaria and using shrimp as bait ... I still find that hard to believe.

The lab is pretty straight forward ...
Every team of students receives a small plastic aquarium and a live shrimp to observe.
They draw and label some major structures.
These kids draw from their text fairly often, but drawing from life freaks them out a little bit.
I like to freak them out every so often.

When the drawing is complete, they track the shrimp's movements for 5 minutes. This can be interesting or not so interesting depending on the shrimp. Today's shrimp were pretty chilly from being outside in a baitshop tank during a night with freezing temperatures, so the first class had some very calm shrimp.
Oh well, patience is a virtue in science.

After the required lab items are covered and a brief safety/humane handling demo, they are encouraged to gently handle the shrimp.
Shrimp jump backwards to escape danger, so this can get pretty exciting.
Sometimes, they leap out of the tank in a spray of salt water.
That usually elicits some Wowwhoaexclaimacalation, which I always enjoy.
The shrimp, protected by their wonderful exoskeleton, survive the leap and are quickly reaquaintaquarianated.

Shrimp thoughts ... "Hmmm, cold smack landing on classroom floor then quick return to aquarium VS hook through my body & tossed to a hungry fish as bait ... okay, a no brainer, even for an invertebrate like me"

Wow! Look at that face!

The shrimp were purchased from a tiny store in Otter Creek. Depending on how you look at it, they are either real lucky or real unlucky.
They were unlucky to be caught for sale as live bait, but lucky that I stopped in the store at 7:00 am today and bought them for this lab.

Instead of being put on a hook and tossed out for a hungry seatrout or redfish to strike, they will be spending some extra time on the planet swimming in my large classroom saltwater tank.
A little handling by skittish teenagers was a minor inconvenience compared to that whole "hook through your butt" fishing bait thing.

Shrimp swimmerets in action.


Sandcastle Momma said...

It's sad that kids can grow up here and not really experience Florida at all.

I notice that you didn't mention what will happen to those shrimp when the lesson is over. No hook in the butt maybe but do I see a pot of boiling water and some coctail sauce in their future? LOL
Those small ones are usually pretty tasty!

Doug Taron said...

Super classroom exercise. My middle school science teacher did something similar. I was interested in your observations regarding "multiple nature channels on their tv's and whole fantastic virtual worlds on their home computers." Here at the museum we have the equivalent of those things, dead stuff in jars, and live stuff. Guess which of those is consistently the most popular. Yup, it's the live stuff. The fascination with things in jars typically prompts the question "is that real?" The exercise my science teacher did was a very memorable one for me, so I'm really glad to hear that teachers such as yourself are still providing kids with this sort of opportunity.

kathy a. said...

excellent project! my biology teacher was pretty lame, bless her heart, and there was never anything live in her classroom except the students.

Sharon said...

LOVE to eat shrimp, HATE cleaning them. Those dangly eyeballs creep me out! LOL

Sayre said...

I think the fact that our dinner last night started out with eyes before being cleaned freaked Z out a little. He eats fried shrimp just fine (the batter kind of disguises that he's eating an animal). Having spent the first 6 years of his life in Wakulla hanging out at Jerry's Bait shop or down at the St. Marks Wild Life Refuge, he's had a better education in what it's like to be a Floridian than most kids his age.

Sharon said...

Oh, and I took Zoology in HS, very interesting, except for the fact that my teacher was a big reptile-guy, so we had to handle pickled snakes and use a dichotomous key to id them.

Fun fact - my word verification word for this post is "micies" hehe

ChrisC and JonJ said...

What do you do with them after their days in the tank are over?Dinner?

SophieMae said...

WoW, indeed! Supercool close-up of the face! Do you warn the students about their defensive 'horns' or let them find out the experiencial way?

I stopped taking other people fishing so much coz I spent all my time baiting their hooks. Sheeesh! Maybe Y2K wouldn't have been such a bad thing, after all. (^;*)

TROLL said...

It's a shame how disconnected Generation Yo! punks are from the natural world.

Ask them to name Florida's Top Ten Agricultural products. Bet they won't get 5 correct.

Deb said...

Stimulating wonder is way more important than teaching deep science. The quest for knowledge will only come when it is sparked by a sense of wonder.

I can't believe I've handled more live shrimp than a bunch of Florida country kids!

Hurricane Teen said...

Ah, I hate being lumped in with the "Generation Yo!" crowd.
But, unfortunately, it is true that most people my age don't even realize that shrimp have eyes or legs...Or that darned rostrum that always manages to stab you in the fingertips when you least expect it.
These kinds of lessons are always the best, though :-D

It's hard to look at a shrimp for too long because they ARE kind of cute. I just try to pinch their heads off without looking 8-)

Pablo said...

I BOW to your WOW.

Anonymous said...

I only remember dead animals in my science classes - wish I'd had you as a teacher!

cndymkr / jean said...

I learned how to use shrimp as bait before I learned how to use a worm - vacations in Florida were a well rounded adventure. And except for the little barbs I prefer the shrimp - worms are slimy.

Cathy S. said...

I am a squeally girl who loves to fish, but makes someone else bait my hook. Shrimp are best when they are covered in cornmeal and fried. Alas, I am enrolled in the Biggest Loser competition at work. No fried shrimp for me for a while. So...what do you do with them when class is over?

Floridacracker said...

What Do I Do With Them When Class Is Over?
They live in the shrimp aquarium in my Marine Science Lab/Classroom. Those who make it until late May, earned their release. Those who die along the way are fed to the fish in the saltwater fish aquarium. One has already made that leap.

I enjoyed your bait into supper story!

It's all about exposure, lots of contact with real live stuff. I'm not surprised at your observations about what the kids prefer.

Kathy A,
Mine were lame too! I just remember what they did and do the opposite! LOL!

Now, like Hurricane Teen I find them puppy cute.

See above. They get a little break.

I warn them about the rostrum and telson and then it's up to them if they decide to pick one up!

Ouch! These are my students, not punks. Just kids.
We have a strong Ag program (FFA) here so our kids probably could answer most of your challenge question.
What are they?

Your childhood on the St. Johns earns you that title!
I like your view on wonder.

They are cute dang it! I agree.

Speaking of bow wow, how is that cute new pup doing?

They have their place, but it's a shame when the life sciences are taught with just dead stuff. Thanks too!

I have to agree with you on the shrimp worm debate. Shrimp are slick and clean.

Cathy S,
Fried is my absolute favorite way to eat them too. Good luck with that BL challenge at work! Very cool!

caroline said...

Our 9th graders are dealing with the periodic table at the moment. They would welcome those crustaceans with open arms, figuratively, that is. Life science can really grab you more than physical science some days.

Personal opinion, freaking them out every so often is a wonderful thing!
We had a uniformed police officer in our Civics class yesterday having a heart to heart with the kids about skateboarding laws. That freaked them out big time, the cop was human, cool and thought they had good ideas. Really shook them up :o)

Caroline at 44N 103W

Floridacracker said...

We life science teachers definitely have the advantage when it comes to student interest when compared to the physical sciences.
I can just picture that skateboard discussion!

threecollie said...

Yay, FC, thanks for the lesson!

Flora said...

To answer your question about Florida's agricultural products, I got 1, 3, 5, 8 and 9 right before googling:
Other Fruits and Nuts
Vegetables and Melons
Field Crops
Foliage and Floriculture
Aquatic Plants
Other Crops and Products
Cattle and Calves
Poultry and Eggs
Miscellaneous Livestock

Floridacracker said...

You're welcome!

You go! Aquaculture is my favorite of those!

NativeMom said...

Ok, that does it. Between this post and SayreSmiles post about cleaning shrimp, I have got to get a shrimp cleaning/cooking lesson scheduled for MiniMe. How can I raise a Florida native without this sort of education. I may have to enlist Mimi's help as she's the one that taught me the fine art of cleaning shrimp (which I always thought seemed a lot like bugs).

Just the Right Size said...

I love that word...swimmerettes. It sounds so French!

Neat stuff FC! Now I want me some shrimp on the barbie!

Rurality said...

They remind me a lot of crawdads!

Have to tell you my dream from last night: alligators in the ditch near my mailbox. My first thought was, "Run get the camera! FC will never believe this!" LOL.

Floridacracker said...

Native Mom,
They ARE alot like bugs! Sure tasty though. Good luck with your shrimp lesson!

Just Right,
Sounds like a word for Esther Williams and her cast!

Hah! You know you've got Bloggness bad when you blog in your sleep!
Be careful around that mailbox!

Kimberlee said...

This was great! You WOWed a bunch of Arctic kids with your video. That's as close as they've gotten to a shrimp of any kind, I'm sure. Fun stuff!

Alan said...

Not many things ruin the day like a hook in the posterior, for sure.

On the other hand, few things brighten my day more than a perfectly fried one of those little buggers, especially if they are from O'Steen's in St. Aug. :)