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Crabby Interactions: Fifth Graders Explore Human Impact on the Blue Crab Population


"This article describes a two-day lesson in which fifth-grade students took on the role of marine biology scientists, using their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills to explore human impact on the blue crab ecosystem. The purpose of 'Crabby Interactions' was to help students understand the impact of human activities on the local marine ecosystem by focusing on the blue crab. By allowing the students to participate in a life science lab and interact directly with the blue crabs, an organism found in their coastal backyard, students were able to make a personal connection with this organism and learn important ecological concepts. Teachers can situate this lesson as an extension after discussions of organisms and environments: food webs and food chains, ecosystems, life processes that help organisms survive within their environments, animal behavior and adaptations, predator-prey relationships, the water cycle, and other models and systems. The activity is targeted for fifth grade, but modifications make it suitable for lower grade levels."