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school aquarium club ideas

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school aquarium club ideas

Post by Starfish on Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:00 pm

It does not seem as though I have been successful in convincing my daughter's teacher to have an aquarium. I even offered my old one and to set it up for her. So now I am thinking that an aquarium somewhere else in the school where all the kids could enjoy it might be a better idea. I would like to get kids involved with this so I am thinking of maybe starting an aquarium club at the school. It means I would have to go in on a regular basis, but if there were kids interested, I would be willing to do that. So before I present this to the principal, I need some sort of idea what to do with a school club besides just cleaning tanks. We could definitely learn about the water cycle, different types of fish, all the things one needs to know about setting up a tank and regular maintanance. The kids would be junior/intermediate level, (grades 4 through 8 ). Any one have any ideas?
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Re: school aquarium club ideas

Post by GaryE on Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:38 pm

Interesting... there are problems, he said, from experience. You can't trust the kids to run the tank without tight supervision, and they duck the grunt work. I arrange all feeding amounts in pill trays, as overfeeding and killing with kindness is a common breakdown. The kids also duck all water changes - that's on you.
Positives? They enjoy it, and a few of my high school kids have gone on to work in pet stores to finance their educations or to feed themselves.
Lessons - you need to talk with a science teacher. Fish are wonderful for teaching evolution and adaptation, but it has to somehow connect to the curriculum. We use the school pond in season, and the tanks I run to teach basic water chemistry (we got a small grant to buy test kits). That runs as two weeks of the curriculum.
I will be supplying our biology department with transparent killifish eggs so they can study the development of the embryos with a digital microscope. That is a great lesson.
Again, after two weeks, our curriculum moves on.
There is a great concern among principals about safety, and no gfi plugs in schools. Heaters are an issue, and I have gone with unheated tanks. All lights have to be on timers. Weekends are dead times, and that lovely two week xmas vacation is a challenge, although if I feed the fish carefully before the holidays, they ride it out just fine.
I would not consider anything smaller than a 20 gallon, for water stability. Bigger's better.
Schools do get cold when empty, so species choice is key. We don't want to go out of our ways to teach about death...
Our most successful tank is a 65 gallon (donated) tank in a behavior tech's room. Kids use it as a time out zone, and the tank is very calming. It's also a responsibility (I only do water changes) and some kids really step up and take pride in the tank. Sort of. Sometimes.
We have another in the room beside the principal's office, as a quiet down aid for the kids waiting to meet with the long arm of justice. That has actually been effective too.

So, to get a principal to consider offering space for such a project, I would suggest :
a) a location that serves the school - the calming idea;
b) small hardy livebearing fish, paradise fish or other sub-tropical fish. No goldfish, ever! A school is a terrible environment for goldies;
c) linkage to the science curriculum - be a resource for teachers.

I'm an English teacher and run four tanks in our high school (Grades 7-11). I've tried a lot of angles, and most have worked. You just have to go with the idea that at the end of the day, you have to be in charge and to do the work. Kids just want to have fun...

Also, every time parents you don't know offer to donate a tank, they seem to have a plan. You get the "my garage is full of tanks and I want space - can I give you a tank?", but when they show up, have some cash available. Sadly, the last three donations asked for money after they arrived. It happens... but the tanks are still dirt cheap. I was able to supply two school science departments with fully equipped tanks for $50 total - a magnificent bargain, but not the freebie it was presented as.

The Principal wants cheap - budgets are very tight. You need budget. I pay for things out of my fish auction sales, and have auctioned things in the past at aquarium clubs after announcing all proceeds would go to the school projects. It worked.
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Re: school aquarium club ideas

Post by Ursus sapien on Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:54 pm

Very useful advice Gary.
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Re: school aquarium club ideas

Post by mikebike on Wed Oct 16, 2013 6:29 pm

you could try contacting a local pet store to see if they would like to help sponsour the tank

IE: tank donated by Fishwonder Pets

I have donated plecos and guppies to folks I know want fish for clasrooms.

Cheers
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Re: school aquarium club ideas

Post by Ursus sapien on Wed Oct 16, 2013 6:38 pm

@mikebike wrote:you could try contacting a local pet store to see if they would like to help sponsour the tank

IE: tank donated by Fishwonder Pets

I have donated plecos and guppies to folks I know want fish for clasrooms.

Cheers
Curiously, while I've had a 'free for classroom/theraputic use' notice up on my storefront for a couple of years, no one has approached me about it.
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Re: school aquarium club ideas

Post by GaryE on Wed Oct 16, 2013 8:35 pm

I know that we are prohibited from advertising in the classroom, so we can't acknowledge donations with cards or signs. It's a pain when we are dealing with small local businesses, although I can see why they'd ban signs from large corporations - they'd give us pencils and put billboards in.

So another suggestion - check the rules and constraints the school board has. We aren't allowed any mammal or bird in a class, due to allergy concerns. Guide dogs would be exempted, but that's it. Such rules can affect fishtanks...
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Re: school aquarium club ideas

Post by sucker4plecos on Wed Oct 16, 2013 9:19 pm

Our club in Kitchener-Waterloo has developed a Grade school program.... it started out as a Grade 4 program as it went with the curriculum and has been successful and tanks have made their way to other class rooms.... We have had 20 gallon tanks donated by LFS and donations to the club and auctions help fund and populate the tanks. livebearers and a few plecos tend to be the main stay. We have had no issues that I have heard about to date.... Auto feeders work during Christmas and a parent or club member takes the tank over the summer, to be set up again in fall....
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Re: school aquarium club ideas

Post by Starfish on Thu Oct 17, 2013 7:29 pm

Thank you for all the suggestions and responses. Gary, I knew you would have a lot of insight and recommendations. A lot of what you mentioned, I had thought of, but actually reading it through makes it more real. So I am now thinking this may be more difficult than I first thought. If I were working at the school and there everyday, then I would do it for sure. But I am a parent and I don't live that close to the school so getting in there more than once a week would be a challenge. Besides, I have already offered to help with the band and teach badminton again. If I could find a teacher that was interested in taking on the aquarium idea with me then it might work. It was to be a fun lunch-time type of activity for the kids but they may not find cleaning tanks something they want to do on their lunch break.

As for funding the project, I was going to present it to the Parent Council (of which I am a member). So I am going to ponder this some more and maybe run it by some teachers and see what reaction I get.
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