Gametes of sea urchins yield exceptional experiences in the classroom; teachers and students alike are riveted by being able to observe fertilization, cell division and embryonic development. The gametes are easy to use, the developmental stages are readily seen with the microscope and the rapidity of fertilization and early cell divisions allows the student to ask questions and obtain answers within the bounds of a normal classroom schedule. The utility of urchins for inquiry-based science is unrivaled.
The goal of this project is to make these remarkable embryos readily accessible through development of inquiry based lessons, available on an open access website. Students can then move beyond the early embryo, and explore how scientists study sea urchins to understand larval development and metamorphosis, community ecology, pollution in the marine environment and biological evolution.
The virtual urchin team consists of Principle Investigator Dr. David Epel, sea urchin biologist Dr. Jason Hodin, acclaimed teacher Pamela Miller and educational technology specialist, Dr. Camillan Huang-Voss.