Gulf of Maine Research Institute

How can 5th and 6th grade students engage with a complex topic like natural resource economics?

In a world of greater and greater competition for finite resources, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) knows that involving young people in understanding the issues and participating in discussions at an early age is critical.

GMRI partnered with us to prototype, design, and build the LabVenture technology platform in the Cohen Center for Interactive Learning. From 2005 to 2015, more than 90,000 students have visited GMRI and participated in researching and solving ocean mysteries, understanding lobsters, and exploring complex systems in the Gulf of Maine.

One of three different content streams launched on the LabVenture technology platform over the past 10 years was Lobster: Untold Tales. A major component of the Lobster: Untold Tales experience was a lobster-fishing resource economics simulation where students act as lobstermen in a realistic example of the common pool resource mechanism at work.


The experience

  • ┬ĽUp to fifteen students participate simultaneously by choosing how many lobster traps to fish within the legal maximum limit in a certain region.
  • With each subsequent lobstering trip, students privately adjust their number of traps to see what impact their collective behavior has on the individual and overall catch and profit.
  • Students create a video report of their results and experience. These videos and supporting interpretive information have produced fascinating results for the students, GMRI, and the resource economists who helped design and collect data from the project for their own ongoing research.