YARMOUTH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- When the school year started, if you had asked any of Morgan Cuthbert's students about the European green crab, they may have known it existed, but not the problem that they pose.
The crabs have been found in the Gulf of Maine's waters for decades, but their population has exploded in recent years.
"I didn't really know they were invasive," admitted Connor Senger. "I actually thought they were a native species."
"I really had no idea that they were a big problem in our community," stated Clara Brady.
After doing months of research, talking with university professors and talking with community leaders and fishermen, the students have become immersed in the subject as they seek a solution.
"The green crabs are wiping out the clamming industry and it is a big industry for all of our coastal communities," explained Olivia Feeley.
"Even though we are just middle school students, we can still make a big impact through all of our work," she added.
And make an impact they have. The students at the Frank H. Harrison School have recorded a video to raise awareness about the issue and are poised to begin implementing carefully researched experiments that could lead to a viable option to protect clams from the crabs.
"We thought this would be a great thing to tackle," said Mr. Cuthbert. "It is an issue in our community, it is an issue the kids can tackle locally and really make a difference."
The project has paid off, as the seventh graders were recently recognized as one of fifteen semifinalists in the Solve for Tomorrow science and technology competition sponsored by Samsung. The honor comes with a $35,000 donation of electronic equipment to the school, and a chance to compete against other schools for the $135,000 grand prize.
While the students and their teacher were surprised by their selection as a semifinalist, they say they are more interested in finding a solution to the crab problem than they are in awards and honors.
Clementine Blaschke says the recognition will help them meet that ultimate goal.
"The more people you get aware, the faster that we will find a solution," she stated.
Aside from the grand prize winners, the school is also competing to generate the most votes for the video they created, which could increase the amount of money the school will recieve. Between now and March 14th, the kids are asking people to vote for their video once each day to help spread the word about the invasive crabs, and secure additional resources for their school.