In the era of hybrid learning, MSMHS Aquaculture innovates by sending marine aquariums home to their students for collaborative learning.
Education in the time of COVID-19 means that students are now spending increasing amounts of time learning outside of the classroom. Traditionally, the aquaculture courses at the Marine Science Magnet High School (MSMHS Aquaculture) have used hands-on techniques in the lab to provide authentic learning experiences; to practice skills and reinforce interdisciplinary learning. By shifting to a hybrid teaching model, MSMHS is innovating their education techniques by assembling fish tank kits for students in their “Aquatic Husbandry” course. These kits allow each student the opportunity to have a fish tank in his/her home that offers hands-on science lessons, bonds families, fosters a respect for nature and living creatures, and promotes personal responsibility. Each kit includes all of the necessary equipment to run a 20 gallon salt water aquarium in their home, test water quality, and care for a pair of clownfish. This project was launched by the innovation of MSMHS' Director of Aquaculture Eric Litvinoff, with the financial and logistical support of Connecticut Sea Grant and Mystic Aquarium.
Throughout the curriculum of “Aquatic Husbandry,” MSMHS covers topics related to biosecurity, water quality, system design/maintenance, and marine ornamental breeding. Students are responsible for maintaining their tanks, tracking fish behaviors, monitoring water quality, etc. Through online discussions, students help their peers troubleshoot issues and celebrate the success of operating a healthy aquarium. Students use their tanks/fish as a resource for a variety of lessons throughout the semester. Evaluations occur before, during and after the course and are used to assess the student’s ability to maintain the tank, their comfort in troubleshooting problems, and their desire to explorer a career path in the marine aquarium industry.