Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Measure Twice, Cut Once You Wacky Shrimp Farmers

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.
So ...
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.
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.


Anonymous said...

Good for you FC- I just might have enjoyed school more back when if I'd had teachers like you. (Okay, who am I kidding?) But it could've happened!

kevin said...

Cool project. Will there be a shrimp fry when you're done?

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous teacher you are, wishing you would have had a clone when the boys and I were in school. It would have been lots more interesting for us! I love it when we can "out think them"! :)

cndymkr / jean said...

Now if there was only some way to get my son as interested in Language Arts. Animals of any kind would really help him out.

Floridacracker said...

Anything is possible my dear.

Ahem, yes, well, of course they will reach maturity after the kids leave for summer so I suppose I will have to do the taste testing.

Well thank you very much, but there are teachers doing neat projects like this all over. Yes, outflanking them is part of the game. LOL!

Give him "Rascal" by Sterling North and then buy him a raccoon.
(just kidding about the raccoon part, but he WILL want one after reading it.)

lisa said...

What happened to teachers like you when I was in school. I really can't say that, I had an algebrea teacher that was the greatest! Keep on teaching like you do!

amarkonmywall said...

Shrimp farming- in a fashion I can understand and enjoy. I think you must be a wonderful teacher...

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with the post-which I liked. I just want to say that I LOVE that ole Bear and that is a fabulous picture of him up there. Thank you.

Thunder Dave said...

you for got to add: ....and with Lightnin it usually is! ;-)

Pretty impressive project for the kids!

Dani said...

SOL~ Shrimp out of luck!! BAHAHAHA!!!

You look so different in your nerdy teacher clothes. In a good way. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi FC,

Very cool project! And you get dinner to boot.



Floridacracker said...

The good ones stick with you don't they?

Thanks. I actually work with a bunch of dedicated wonderful teachers ... who are especially happy today.

I am with you 100 percent. Just finished loving him up and playing tugowar with his blankie. Bear rules!

Yes I did! The kids really like the shrimp operation. So does their teacher.

Very good! Did you get the L7 joke too?
Nerdy chic? Maybe not! LOL!

I try to plan projects that involve me getting fed.

kathy a. said...

fun project for everyone!

one of our good friends in charleston [1984-8] was a shrimp farmer. seemed to keep him busy, building those big ponds and keeping them working properly, raising the babies, feeding with the purina shrimp chow, harvesting, etc. that commercial venture was kind of experimental at the time, at least in that area. all the friends ate well. ;)