Give them a plan ... and a mantra.
Turn them loose.
Hold your breath and hope they listened to the safety message.
Laugh as they learn to work together.
Accept that your tape measure may not survive too many dunkings, but the goal is worth it.
Reassure your livestock that it will be okay.
Try not to look too astonished when the plan comes together.
Act like you knew they would accomplish the mission the whole time.
A few weeks ago, we had a brief discussion of the territorial nature of Macrobrachium rosenbergii, the giant freshwater prawn.
I explained to my 3 Marine Science classes that the tiny prawns in the Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) are very territorial and have a definite social hierarchy.
Dominant males become the alpha prawns. These are called BC's because they will have long bright blue claws. The BC's rule the roost, get all the girls, and will eat smaller interlopers ... like the OC's ... orange claws. OC's are the second level down from BC's.
There's actually a third and lowest level of smaller individuals ... I think they are just called L7's, cause they are SOL (shrimp out of luck).
In a crowded aquaculture situation, you can wind up with just a few jumbo prawns rather than a lot of big prawns if you don't give them room to spread out.
The way to increase their available surface area is to add some kind of mesh substrate that the prawns can crawl on. That way, they don't constantly bump into each other on the tank bottom.
BC: " Oh hello, OC. Didn't I just see you at the other side of the tank?"
OC: "Yessss sir , but it's a small tank and I was just foraging."
BC: "Ya' know, constantly meeting like this makes me want to rend you cheliped to cheliped and feast on your liver."
OC: "Well, sorry Mr. BC, I really am trying to avoid you, but there's only this bottom area to walk ... and it's crowded in here."
BC: "Yeah, yeah, fascinating. Now hold still while I devour you."
This kind of encounter is what we want to avoid so we harvest more shrimp, hence the need for substrate.
We decided on 3 mesh panels that could be easily lifted out of the tank for cleaning, etc.
Each class built a panel on the day before spring break when their minds are usually already at the beach a day ahead of their bodies.
I tricked them though ... gave them a project that was hands on, cooperative (mostly... LOL!), and a little competitive since each class was building one.
It worked like a charm.
It worked like a charm.
I only wish I could share the other photos I took with beaming faces, stressing faces, concentrating faces, and finally proud faces.
Their privacy trumps that, so I picked and cropped to share what I could.
It was the kind of day when the kids and I both walk out of the room knowing that we got something done.
Education can be a pretty nebulous thing sometimes.
These concrete days are good medicine.
... Wish we had more of em.