to be published in Proceedings of the Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE), vol. 26, 2004
Purpose of tool:
This tool allows students to gently touch, nudge, or push small aquatic or terrestrial organisms, such as mollusks, annelid, crustacean, insect, etc. Widgets are particularly useful for testing tactile sensitivity of specific parts of small, soft-bodied organisms, such as the end of a worm or the tentacle of a snail. These probes deliver touch stimuli of consistent strength, while minimizing injury or insult to organisms. Also, they are extremely useful for selecting and transferring dry microfossils (see: http://www.eeob.iastate.edu/faculty/DrewesC/htdocs/micFOSS-widgFIN.jpg)
Long, slender rubber bands for widget tips [For thick widget tips: Universal or Plymouth brand #19 rubber bands; 3-1/2 in x1/16 in x1/32 in] [For thin widget tips, two options exist: (1) Stretch-Rite Metallic Elastic Cord. This product is sold at many fabric stores and contains eight slender white bands within the metallic braid; (2) Rubber legs colored elastic strands are sold at fly fishing supply stores. Rubber legs have exceptional elasticity properties.]
Wooden applicator stick
Heavy scissors or side cutters
Small disposable pipet tips (e.g., 10 microliter size)
Super glue (quick-drying cyanoacrylate glue)
Assembly and use of this tool:
Figure 13. Assembly steps for making widgets.
Figure 14. Examples of three widgets. The loop widget in the center is particularly useful for initiating helical swimming and body reversal in blackworms (Lumbriculus).
per widget is less than 5 cents. Assembly time is less than 5 min/unit.]