Author Archives: Bill Zoellick

Setting Up and Deploying the Plastic Plant Pot Experiment

This post provides detailed instructions about how to set out the plastic plant pot experiments that are at the heart of work that students do in CSI-Maine. It provides a list of materials and tells you what to do with them.  If any of this is confusing or seems to leave something, please tell us by leaving a reply using the link at the top of the post, right below the title. Continue reading

2019 Gouldsboro Data – Part 1 – The Experiments

During 2018 the Gouldsboro shellfish committee and the CSI-Maine project set out “experimental unit” — our “plant pot” experiments — in two coves that were once productive but that are now so overrun by crabs that they are considered to be “dead mud.” This spring, a team of students in the Pathways program at Sumner Memorial High School is analyzing the data so that they can be presented to the shellfish committee and others on March 20.  This is the first in a series of posts that document that work.  We will look both at what the students did and at what the data show about the two sites.  Continue reading

Making Tuva Files Available to Students

Boothbay Harbor at low tide. Photo by Ryssby at the English language Wikipedia

In this post, we show you how to make a dataset that you uploaded to Tuva available to students for their own exploration and use. We will work with the Boothbay Harbor sea surface temperature (SST) dataset that we uploaded in an earlier “how to” post. We also illustrate a few of the many things you can do with Tuva, including “filtering” the data so that you only see a part of the data.  We will also show you how to change the range of the axes on a graph and how to save a particular graph for future use. As in our first post using Tuva, we will assume that you are using the basic, free version that Tuva makes available to teachers. Of course, what we show you here also works with the premium version. The premium version also provides with additional ways to make assignments available to students that you will probably want to use if you have access to that product.  Continue reading

Loading a First Dataset into Tuva

Graph of sea surface temperature change in Boothbay HarborGood tools make it simpler for students to explore data visually.  One good tool is a data manipulation and graphing package called “Tuva” that is available from Tuva Labs.  An alternative to Tuva called CODAP (Common Online Data Analysis Platform), created by the Concord Consortium. CSI-Maine teachers will want to use one of these tools so that students can easily use graphs to explore questions about what is going on with climate, crabs, and clams.  In this post, we show you how to get started with Tuva.  Continue reading

CSI-Maine Over the School Year

Sumner Memorial High School student presenting findings at the Maine Fishermen's Forum, March 2018

Sumner Memorial High School student presenting findings at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum, March 2018

The way that CSI-Maine fits into the school year strongly influenced by the clam lifecycle. Clams grow over the summer, which means that teachers and students set out their experiments in the spring and collect data in the fall. This is a nice fit to the school year in many ways. It provides an opportunity to get the new school year off to a strong start with a highly engaging outdoor activity and gives teachers and students the winter months to analyze data, prepare presentations to shellfish committees and others, and make plans for the next season’s work. But the seasonality and connection to nature also present challenges. For example, good low tides for getting out and doing the work rarely occur just when you want them to. This article discusses strategies for fitting CSI-Maine into the school year.  Continue reading

NGSS and CSI-Maine

Middle school students setting out experiments

Students at Edna Drinkwater School setting out shellfish experiments, May 2018.

CSI-Maine is an excellent way to give students deep experience in all eight of the science and engineering practices identified in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and in the Framework for K-12 Science Education. As a project that is focused on questions about systems and change over time, it also provides great opportunities to bring NGSS cross-cutting concept to the forefront. As for subject matter content, CSI-Maine can support learning about ecosystems, population dynamics, zoology, and statistics, just to name a few of the many kinds of knowledge that can be brought into focus in this project. We have created a series of articles on this website to help teachers tie CSI-Maine to learning standards. The article that follows is a “jumping off place” for other resources on this site. Continue reading

The Green Crab Lifecycle

European Green Crab

European green crab (c) Can Stock Photo / mikemols

The European green crab (Carcinus maenas) arrived in the New York and New Jersey ports in the early 1800s, spread to Casco Bay by the 1890s, and continued to spread northward to Downeast Maine and the Bay of Fundy over the twentieth century (Fulton et al., 2013).  It is a voracious predator, but until recently the crab’s numbers in Maine were kept in check by cold winters. That was enough to make it possible for softshell clams to continue to thrive even though green crabs were eating them. All that has changed now that winters are warmer. Research by Dr. Brian Beal of the Downeast Institute, along with others (Beal, 2006; Tan & Beal, 2015), makes a strong case that the green crab has contributed substantially to declines in softshell clam populations in many parts of Maine.

Because CSI-Maine is designed to provide Maine communities with information they can use to protect clams from predators, knowledge about green crabs and their lifecycle is useful in interpreting the data we collect and in thinking about new approaches to increasing and sustaining the clam harvest. Continue reading

The Clam Lifecycle

Small clam being measured

Collecting data about clam shell length.

There are many reasons that it will be useful for students to have an understanding of the softshell clam (Mya arenaria) life cycle as they work as part of CSI-Maine. It will help them understand when clams are most vulnerable to predators, how long it takes for a clam to reach legal size, why there can be lots of seed clams even in areas where there are no adult clams, and much more. Understanding the clam lifecycle will also be important for using CSI-Maine in support of learning goals related to ecological concepts such as predator/prey relationships and population dynamics.  So … here is a “very short course” on the topic. Continue reading