Because Dunnellon rests in the environmentally rich area between the Withlacoochee and Rainbow rivers, there is strong interest in water related activities. An aquaculture program, “just makes sense” for our school. Aquaculture is defined as the rearing of aquatic organisms under controlled conditions. In our program we would initially seek to raise Tilapia and catfish. Both these species are relatively easy to rear and forgiving in fledgling programs where novice entrepreneurs are just learning.
Aquaculture (fish farming) offers an effective tool for teaching science. That’s because aquaculture is interdisciplinary — understanding how it’s done requires understanding aspects of physics (like water flow), chemistry (water quality and pH), and biology (plants and fish.) Our program aims to be a multiyear on going operation designed to engage students in all aspects of aquaculture. There are four main goals to our program. Building systems- interconnected tanks of fish and plant life that maintain a delicate balance. Building structures- designing the aquaculture bay to accommodate the most product per square foot. Managing the animals- determining nutritional yields, tank capacity, overall health, troubleshooting problems; every event positive and negative is a learning opportunity. And building self confidence in scientific and mathematical literacy- students take ownership of the program and act as instructors to teach upcoming classes how to manage the program.
Our program would be available before and after school, on club days, and during science classes. In effect our school would gain a freshwater lab in addition to a valuable program. Students would be thoroughly engaged in decision making because they are responsible for water quality testing, (environmental science, biological science, and chemistry). They are also responsible for system maintenance, repairs and adjustments, applied mathematics, fractions, complex problem solving). Finally, the students are responsible for developing solutions to problems that arise in feeding rate adjustments, (Applied nutrition science, applied mathematics in ratios and fractions). This project is a confidence builder!