By Emily Gottlieb, Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
On a sunny afternoon in late October, a small group of students from an alternative high school were participating in the LiMPETS sand crab monitoring program at their local beach. Many had not been present for the in-class training a few days prior, so standing in the beach parking lot, they had a crash course in the monitoring protocol. They learned how to set vertical transects and collect their samples, how to measure and sex the crabs, how to return the crabs to the swash zone after collecting their data. After some half-hearted grumbles about getting their feet sandy, they had made their way down to the water. Once there, they followed the protocol meticulously, quickly forgetting their protests against the sand. After completing their survey, most of the students were wading in the shallow water or gathering their gear to return to the parking lot, but one student was hanging back. His towering 6-foot frame was bent over a small sandy child who had curiously wandered over with his mom. The high school student was gingerly holding a large sand crab and demonstrating how to lift the crab’s telson to reveal the bright orange eggs that she carried. The tiny beachcombers’ eyes went wide with fascination and the high school student was beaming — fully engaged in this teaching moment as he shared his newfound expertise.
by Emily Gottlieb, LiMPETS Coordinator for Central California
How does a sea anemone eat? What time of year are the most pacific mole crabs found on the beach? How do you tell the difference between flattened and slender rockweed? These are not questions from last night’s Jeopardy episode or this year’s AP biology test. These are questions that real students ask while they collect real data in the field as part of LiMPETS (Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students). For over ten years, LiMPETS has encouraged scientific inquiry through hands-on science experience, a theme that now beats throughout the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards).
The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History has coordinated LiMPETS for the California Central Coast (Davenport to San Simeon) since 2011 as part of the larger LiMPETS network. The network engages approximately 5,500 students and teachers annually monitoring sites from the Sonoma Coast to Los Angeles.
Author: Jeff Sandler, teacher, The Berkeley School
In May 2014, the 7th grade life science class from The Berkeley School spent an entire week out in the field focusing
on some of our local communities. In addition to participating in both LiMPETS monitoring projects (sand crabs at Muir Beach and the rocky intertidal zone at Duxbury Reef in Bolinas), students and teachers spent a night camping and learning about the redwoods at Samuel P. Taylor park.