Sponsor School Project


I am considering sponsoring a school aquarium project. I was thinking I would donate some starter equipment and livestock. Maybe partner with a LFS. Perhaps there is a school aquarium club. Or maybe it could be in support of a science project. Possibly a class project. Maybe even a multi-year project.

I believe that much learning is too structured. The lives of our children are too structured. I would like to let the project be whatever the kids want it to be.

I originally went down this road with a small charter school and it did not work out. I could not get the kids to take the ball and run with it. They wanted to be told what to do. I think the problem was that the kids were forced into the project and I have no teaching experience.

I feel like a project like this could center around aquatic eco-systems, but could include management, financial planning, conflict resolution, negotiation, leadership, teamwork, responsibility, etc.

My original idea was a predator prey balance. Start a tank with a breeding population of a small fish (was thinking guppies at the time). Let the population grow to exceed the capacity of the tank and then face the problem of what to do with the excess population. One solution would be adding a predator.

Having gotten back into the hobby myself and learned a bit more, I have decided that the originally idea with guppies would require a really big tank. It might work with a smaller tank using snails or shrimp. OTOH, the original idea was not really to achieve balance, it was to learn from the attempt to achieve balance. In the learning sense, it would have worked even if the balance would have been unachievable.

One idea I had was to approach a middle school and find a group of kids getting ready to start high school. Make their last year of middle school a planning year. Set up a tank their first year of high school (9th or 10th grade). The project would be a three or four year project.

They would need to establish a management system. A means of caring for the tank through holidays and summer. Perhaps somebody would need to take the tank home for the summer. Or perhaps someone would need to have access to the school through the summer.

They would have to navigate bureaucracy assign and fulfill responsibility.

I could go on and on with thoughts about how this could work. I am looking for comments.

What age group would be optimal?

Public school or private school?

What sort of structure?

Might need to have cooperation with a teacher?

I am interested in all thoughts and comments.


MacZ As an academic, do you have any thoughts on this project?
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Nice idea but your gonna have to link up with a biology teacher, even then they have a curriculum to follow which would pose problems. For an age group, I would say yr11 onwards, just avoid yr7 to yr10. Public or private it doesn't matter the kids are exactly the same and it's hard enough to find a school to take on the project so better not make preferences.

The best way to find kids motivated and to avoid the curriculum and all that is to cooperate with a science teacher and make it a club that runs at lunch once or twice a week (the teacher would have to feed the tanks). Age group doesn't matter with clubs as you only get people who are interested.

It sounds like a really interesting idea as there are so many ways to keep a fish tank and could be a bit of fun for the kids interested. I recommend looking up maidenhead aquatics as they did a similar project a while back.
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Aw I came in here expecting to offer a highscool kid some PayPal money to further their interest in the hobby lol
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I started something similar to this at my college for the Aquarium Club! We fundraised to get a 120 gallon tank, equipment, etc. and did a community stocking instead of predator/prey (little kids visit and seeing the big fish eat a little one would be upsetting). I also put together an info book to go with the tank. Over the summer and breaks, a monk (our advisor) takes care of the tank because he lives on campus. The tank is used as a visual feature in our science building and as an educational piece.

The main thing you need to keep in mind in the emotional maturity and drive of the students. My project worked well at a college because many students there are driven and passionate about their interests, so are willing to follow through with a big project like that. Otherwise, it becomes a cool feature, but mainly something that is just there and dies down when whoever is invested leaves (unless you can rope staff into teaching lessons around it).
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I would rather support public schools but I think private schools might have more flexibility.
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