Lesson Plan

Asian Shore Crabs

Students with Asian Shore Crabs on visit to Gateway National Recreation Area

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Grade Level:
High School: Ninth Grade through Twelfth Grade
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
9-10.RI.1, 9-10.RI.2, 9-10.RI.3, 9-10.RI.4, 9-10.RI.5, 9-10.RI.6, 9-10.RI.8, 11-12.RI.1, 11-12.RI.2, 11-12.RI.3, 11-12.RI.4, 11-12.RI.5, 11-12.RI.6, 11-12.RI.7, 9-10.RST.1, 9-10.RST.2, 9-10.RST.3, 9-10.RST.4, 9-10.RST.5, 9-10.RST.6, 9-10.RST.8, 9-10.RST.9, 9-10.RST.10, 11-12.RST.1, 11-12.RST.4, 11-12.RST.3, 11-12.RST.2, 11-12.RST.5, 11-12.RST.6, 11-12.RST.7, 11-12.RST.8, 11-12.RST.9, 11-12.RST.10
State Standards:
The Living Environment Core Curriculum- High School Elective
Standard 1 - Key 1.1.a, Key 1.1b
Standard 4 - Key 6.1g, Key 6.3c
Standard 7 - Key 7.1c
Additional Standards:
Next Generation Science Standards
Including, but not limited to:
Thinking Skills:
Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Applying: Apply an abstract idea in a concrete situation to solve a problem or relate it to a prior experience. Analyzing: Break down a concept or idea into parts and show the relationships among the parts. Evaluating: Make informed judgements about the value of ideas or materials. Use standards and criteria to support opinions and views.


Students will be able to…
•Research invasive species to gain background information on their existence in an ecosystem
•Construct and execute field research at Jamaica Bay using the scientific method and the previous work of other researchers
•Keep a record of data that can be implemented into a larger data set with participating researchers, on the amount of Asian Crabs observed
•Make an informal decision about what should be done about the Asian Shore Crabs (ASC)
more listed in lesson plan...


Is the Asian Shore Crab (ASC) invasive? What does it mean to be invasive? Explore this premise and many others while investigating the ASC. Experiments allow for exploration and a way of attempting to answer questions of interest. Developing relationships between scientists, conservation organizations and the general public open the doors for students to learn about what impacts the environment and what they can do. This is an extensive multi-lesson plan with materials on interdependence in ecosystems. Students can increase their understanding with a trip to Jamaica Bay/Gateway National Recreation Area, but can complete all activities without a field study.


Download lesson plan and print student materials (NYTimes Readings) and prepare slideshows and other videos for presentation (projection).


Download NY Times Article - Friendly Invaders

Download NY Times Article - Old Trees Soon Meet Their Match

Lesson Hook/Preview

This will be a three week project with readings, lab reports, and real analysis of a current scientific issue. A variety of media will be used to research and understand the topic, before we make our own decisions about Asian Shore Crab in it's habitat.


(The lessons are grouped according to weeks in the quarter, with two a week.)

Week 1- What does it mean to be an invader?

  • Day 1-Students come up with ideas on their own, compile list and students write down in their field journals
  • Slide show of invasive species that might surprise you http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/natural-sciences/the-worlds-most-lovable-invasive-species/?page=1 What do all these animals have in common? Discuss with a partner if all these species belong on the Invasives list. Write down in your field journal the opinion of someone that does not agree with you. Can you come to a conclusion together about what an invasive species is?
  • Read two opposing articles about invasive species “Old trees may soon meet their match” by Jim Robbins. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/science/28pines.html?_r=0 and “Friendly Invaders” by Carl Zimmer. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/09/science/09inva.html?ref=invasivespecies  Students answer questions about each article, and then revisit the definition they came up with. How can it be modified based on this new information? Have they changed their views on what it means to be invasive?
  • Looking for evidence in the community; Travel to Prospect Park to survey the different types of invasive species (accurate list) or focus on two species of maple that have overcrowded the park. They will survey a particular area by using rope and chalk to make quadrats of stands of trees. They will be given a guide to find the Norway maple and the Sycamore Maple with a partner and come away with data for 2 quadrates. Their data will be recorded in their field notebooks along with additional drawings, temp, time of year, how much foot traffic, etc.

Day 2- How do Scientists Convey Information to the World?

  • Watch 5 minute video about Ecologists studying invasives with the help of NASA images and answer questions. http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/beetles-fire.html
  • Discussion about how the techniques in the video were similar to our fieldwork yesterday.
  • Write up of data collection, results and conclusions in lab report

Week 2 – Why is it important to keep accurate records while performing the scientific method?

  • Day 1-We talked about threats to Prospect Park; we will be doing some additional studies on invasives in our area.
  • The next environment to be studied is different from the forest community surveyed. Field trip to Jamaica Bay for a beach environment.
  • Pre- field trip lesson:
    • Large map of Jamaica Bay on display. In journals can you make any inferences about what native species could be harmed?
    • Students will read about how Asian Shore Crabs got to NYC with questions to follow. “Hungry Invader or Harmless Immigrant? Found in the Marine Invaders lesson plan.
    • Practice closer to home (here in the classroom.) Job assignments given with explanation why the job is important. May be shown as PPT or video.
    • Students given worksheets and reference guide
  • Day 2- How do scientists execute and report their findings from field research?
    • Analyze data, compare results to other classmates and conclude the experiment with Lab Report write-up on Species found on the shoreline of East River State Park.

Week 3 – Why is it important to keep accurate records while performing the scientific method?

  • Day 1 -Revisit plans for travel to Jamaica Bay. Field notebook check to make sure students know their job and have a place to keep records. Data sheet for quadrat will be stapled into notebooks. Make sure students have all supplies.
  • Students will survey as many quadrats as possible in 1 hour while teacher circulates to make sure data is being collected the same way every time. Emphasis is placed on accuracy to be able to add data to larger collection of scientists work
  • Day 2 – Do Asian Shore Crabs exhibit choice? As students analyze data, ask them to think about the essential question. Did the shore crabs tend to be under larger rocks, dryer sand, etc.? Did males or females tend to be more present above the sand? What did they notice from their data collection? What could they conclude? Or hypothesis?

Week 4 – How can we as citizen scientists influence society?

  • Day 1 – Groups will fill out questionnaire regarding the amount of Asian Shore Crabs found from their time in the field. This gives the National Park Service of Main a better idea of the amount of spread across the Eastern United States. http://www.maine.gov/dmr/rm/crab_form.htm Have all data posted in a graph or table from past three weeks as a reference.
  • What data seemed the most accurate? Why? What are some conclusions we can draw from all the data? What are some recommendations for future research? How could we improve upon our experiments regarding invasive species? Write a three paragraph reflection our work this month.
  • Scientific experiments don’t (or shouldn’t) exist in a bubble. How can we show the rest of the world what we did? Show students ideas for final project. (How they will disseminate their information to the public about their findings?
  • Choose from one of the following a culminating activity:
    • Art made from trees bored out by invasive species http://www.mountaingames.com/summer/art/on-site-art/art-in-vail.aspx 
    • Interactive map/diorama showing where invasive species can be found in Brooklyn
    • Timeline complete with pictures taken and field notes made about the history of one invasive species in their community
    • Game/flashcards/baseball cards that could be used with younger grades to play that depicts info about a particular set of invasive species
    • Letter to the Prospect Park Alliance, Maine Parks Service, Audubon Society, National Park Service that proposes a solution to how the invasives studied should be handled based on their research.
  • Day 2 – How can we, as citizen scientists, influence society?
    • Peer-revising and peer-editing of final projects
    • Gallery walk/science Fair at Lyons with other Elective Classes to share information


Analyze, Conservation, Disseminate, Invasive, Protocols

Additional Resources


Related Lessons or Education Materials

Other Gateway National Recreation Area Lesson Plans

Investigating Bird Migration and Climate Change https://www.nps.gov/gate/learn/education/bird-migration.htm

Osprey Migration https://www.nps.gov/gate/learn/education/osprey-migration.htm

Marine Invaders https://www.nps.gov/gate/learn/education/marine-invaders.htm

Marine Ecology – Water Testing https://www.nps.gov/gate/learn/education/ecology-water-testing.htm

Asian Shore Crabs https://www.nps.gov/gate/learn/education/asian-shore-crabs.htm

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Last updated: July 24, 2015