The saltwater aquarium (175 gallon, Red Sea Max-S 650) and RO/DI water system were donated by Chinquapin supporter, Juan Pablo Negrete in January 2018. Cristina Medrano, a junior on Kacie Horton’s chore crew, expressed an interest in helping her science teacher, Kacie Horton with this aquarium. They spent January through May learning about the aquarium and what it takes to maintain such an advanced system. Additionally, the duo created an Aquatic Science class to give Cristina credit for her work this academic year. They resumed work after the summer break and started preparing the tank for water, sand, rock — and eventually fish, invertebrates and coral. They added two clownfish fish in November and plan on adding one to two fish every few weeks as long as the tank levels remain stable.
Kacie says this has been a very rewarding but challenging project that has required hundreds of hours of work. She and Cristina took their time in the spring educating themselves on aquariums and are still taking their time as they slowly add fish, invertebrates and coral as to not overwhelm the system. “Cristina has been an outstanding partner and she is incorporating this work into her senior project,” says Horton.
The aquarium has been very useful in Kacie’s science classes, and student engagement is very high. It has also been a resource for other classes, including the math class that uses it for graphing changes in water levels; Spanish class to translate instructions; art class for inspiration; and physics class to study the aquarium’s mechanical components and pumps.
Not only is the aquarium great for many classes, but it is a source of pure happiness and joy for our students. They rush in everyday excited to greet the fish. Kacie’s students take turns feeding the fish in the morning and they express so much excitement when it’s their turn. They also research potential additions to the tank and submit a report for why it would be a good addition. The increase of student engagement and connection to the real-world has been priceless.