To say that teachers faced a challenging two-years while pivoting to protect their students during a pandemic while innovating new educational models to keep them engaged and learning is an understatement. But the Marine Science Magnet High School (MSMHS, Groton, CT) accepted the challenge head-on. In partnership with Mystic Aquarium and the support of Connecticut Sea Grant, MSMHS Aquaculture Teacher Eric Litvinoff conceptualized and delivered an innovative model to keep his kids' hands wet while learning about aquatic husbandry in a hybrid teaching model.
Litvinoff's innovation was to bring the aquaculture lab to his students' homes in the form of 20-gallon fish tank kit, including all of the necessary supplies donated in part by Aqueon to maintain it, care for fish, and test water quality. The tanks were distributed to 15 students in his "Aquatic Husbandry" class after learning the basics of setting up and running an aquarium. Once the aquariums were up and cycled, each student received an aquacultured court jester goby donated by Biota, as well as a pair of aquacultured clownfish. Students were responsible for maintaining their tanks, tracking fish behaviors, monitoring water quality, etc. Through online discussions, students helped their peers troubleshoot issues and celebrate the success of operating a healthy aquarium.
The students' home fish tank kits provided for hands-on science lessons, family bonding around the home aquarium, while fostering a sense of personal responsibility and a respect for nature and living creatures. Twelve of these students opted to keep and maintain their home aquaria after the school-year. Students and families have reported that their tanks are thriving and have become a fixture in the home. Additionally, many students have purchased additional equipment, livestock, and decorations on their own; and one student even created their own social media account for their tank.