Following the December meeting, I made changes to my game that made it simpler and closer to my research. I created two models, one of sand and one of seagrass. For the seagrass, I used green ribbon, as this is what my lab uses as artificial seagrass in field and lab experiments. For crabs, I currently have blue marbles, although I am still debating if they are the right size (and if I should draw crabs on them). If I do change materials, I would pick something smaller. My second option is to make a thicker “seagrass” habitat. During the symposium, I’ll use these as models of the different habitats available to juvenile blue crabs. I’m still toying with a few different ideas for the game itself. Below is an in-progress image of the models. There are a few finishing touches left to add, so more pictures to follow.
Seagrass serves as a valuable nursery habitat for blue crabs throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast, including Chesapeake Bay. It provides shelter from predation to incoming juveniles and food as they grow. However, with climate change and human impacts, seagrass is in decline around the globe. It is possible that we may lose this important species, which will negatively impact the ecosystem, various marine fisheries, and the economy that depend on industries tied to the marine environment.
My outreach product will be designed to communicate the importance of seagrass to younger generations in the form of a game. I will focus on three different substrate types juvenile blue crabs may encounter: a flat surface to represent sand, rocks with some shell, and artificial seagrass (maybe high and low densities). Each of these substrates will be constructed as a 3-D interactive display. Within each substrate type, I will hide objects representing blue crabs on the substrate. These objects will be around the average size of the crabs I have been finding in my samples from the York River, between 5-10 mm (blue beads or marbles). The goal of the game would be to find all the “crabs” hidden within each of the substrates, which have varying levels of difficulty, with sand being the easiest and seagrass being the hardest.
Although my product is dedicated specifically toward communicating the importance of seagrass, I hope it will have a broader impact. My goal is to inspire curiosity and awe in children from pre-school to elementary school concerning the marine environment. I envision this group as possibly being the next generation of marine scientists. Through this outreach product, I want to show kids how environments they may never have even thought about are really important to life around them. By understanding their importance, I hope younger generations will desire to learn more about marine environments. Through an interactive game, I hope to teach them the importance of conservation, restoration, and caring for the environment.