Friday, March 06, 2009

You Can Lead Aqua To Culture, But You Can't Make It Pink

That title makes absolutely no sense, but I had fun.

ABOVE: My students, taking turns drilling holes into a 7 gallon bucket that will become part of our filtration unit.

Today in Marine Science class, we are finally, FINALLY, moving forward with our recirculating aquaculture project.
Last year, I wrote a little grant to buy a 600 gallon livestock tank for this purpose, but oil prices shot through the roof and plastic prices followed.
Suddenly, my carefully researched tank prices were no longer accurate and I had to scale back to a 300 gallon tank.
Flexibility is important in the public school system, so I flexed.
Then, the economy tanked and the teeny, tiny school budget became microscopic.
Lucky for me, I had begun purchasing some big ticket items like the powerful air pump ($170) a few years ago with this project in mind.

Also, lucky for me, I have a lot of background recirculating aquaculture knowledge from my own nerdy obsession with the topic, so I can guide the kids in improvising the rest of our system.

ABOVE: Girl scientist/engineers devising a framework to hold netting. The netting will keep fish in and paperballs out ... sigh.

There were several tasks to do. One task was building the framework shown in progress above. To start with, I asked the class, "Okay, who knows how to use PVC pipe cutters?"

A few hands went up.

"I don't want you. You do something else."

Pouty looks.

" I want people who have never worked with PVC before, so they can learn."

At that point, the group of girls in the photo above jumped up. We had a quick PVC lesson and off they went, designing and implementing.

They would have gotten farther along in the implementation part of their task if their teacher, leader, all-knowing sage, had grabbed the right box of PVC connectors from his barn.

"Hey Mr. FC these are too big." Jessica is sliding the half inch PVC pipe completely through the three quarter inch T-fitting from my box of plumbing supplies.

"Oops ... um, sorry girls, I grabbed the 3/4 inch box not the 1/2 inch box off the shelf this morning."

Knowing looks. Hands on hips.

"I'll bring the right stuff Monday, I promise."

They shake their heads and continue measuring and cutting.

Life is good in Marine Science class.


Dani said...

I'm so glad that you were still able to get the 300 gallon. What kind of studies will go along with it?

Kittikity said...

I wish I had a teacher like you when I had Marine biology.. I know, probably not the same thing.. But if we'd been able to do neat stuff like this, maybe I'd done better in the class.. I love hands on stuff..

Cathy S. said...

Your classes always sound like so much fun. Do you do any continuing education for grown ups?

kathy a. said...

there's a whole lot i like about this post. selecting students who didn't know about PVC pipe-cutting so they could learn is one thing. making a mistake about the needed fittings, and admitting that, is another.

also, ya know, the whole learning aquaculture, getting a grant, rescaling the grant, planning the project for years -- impressive.

Hurricane Teen said...

Awesome! It's good to see more young people learning about aquaculture. You will bed sad to know, though, that FIT is axing their aquaculture program in favor of an autism research program...They tore down the aquaculture facility just recently.
Porki's looking good, by the way.

caroline said...

I get to go to a special "Women in Science" all day workshop at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology on Tuesday. 12 of our 9th Grade Academy girls are going with us. Last year it was such a cool program, 800 girls attended from all over western SD...awesome program. Bet your kids would love it.

roger said...

and they get to use power tools too!

amarkonmywall said...

oh, I like this post. I'm very excited about seeing where this all leads so please don't leave us hanging.

Laura said...

Um, I would like to learn what happens next! Please educate us older folks, too! :)

Floridacracker said...

I think our initial crop may be something simple with only a few months of class left. I'd like to do tilapia, but the state has gotten lazy about permitting small ops.

I wish we did even more hands on. I know what you mean though.

Cathy S,
I'm continually educating myself!

Kathy A,
It's amazing what a few hundred dollars can mean to a classroom and the lessons taught there.

Too bad, they were about the only place with a 4 year degree in it.

That DOES sound awesome!

and they love it!

I'll keep updating as the project takes shape.

You could raise a lotta tilapia in that concrete swimming hole!

Miz S said...

From one teacher to another: you have my utmost respect and affection.

Floridacracker said...

Miz S,
I value that more than you know. Ditto, oh protector of the small.