Aquaculture is a highly competitive and the fastest growing segment of agriculture in the United States. Florida’s aquaculture industry is diverse, producing an array of food fish, shellfish, alligators, baitfish, aquatic plants, and ornamentals. To support the continued growth of the industry and encourage public support for aquaculture, there is a significant need to integrate aquaculture curriculum and activities into elementary, secondary, and post-secondary science education programs. Research shows that educational experiences are enhanced when aquaculture is incorporated into the science curriculum. The hands-on, real-life nature of aquaculture encourages student enthusiasm and willingness to participate in classroom activities. There is currently a limited patchwork of aquaculture curriculum resources for K-12 and post-secondary institutions available in the United States. Additionally, most of the materials currently available are not closely correlated or consistent with the National Science Standards or Florida’s Sunshine State Standards. The incorporation of aquaculture in education programs can prepare students for employment in the aquaculture industry or aquaculture activities can simply be used as a multidisciplinary teaching tool that actively engages students in hands-on learning experiences. In June 2009, Harbor Branch hosted two one-week teacher workshops for 50 teachers from 24 Florida counties. The intent of this workshop series was to provide information in a user-friendly, efficient manner to educators who have limited aquaculture experience. Several participants also received a $500 start-up grant to help build or expand their classroom aquaculture program. This project was supported by the Aquaculture Review Council of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
About the Curriculum
Harbor Branch and University of Florida scientists and educators have developed an aquaculture curriculum for middle and high school level classes. This curriculum is available through the University of Florida’s IFAS website. The seven aquaculture education modules are:
General Biology of Aquaculture Species
Design and Operation of Growout Production Facilities
Broodstock Breeding and Hatchery
Harvesting, Processing, and Packaging
Cultivation of Aquatic Plants and Seaweed
Key components of the modules include lesson plans, pre- and post- assessment tools, equipment usage guidelines, and material supply lists. The lesson plans incorporate all aspects of instruction from experimentation to concept development to formal assessment, build upon individual learning styles, and encourage students to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills while participating in individual and collaborative group projects. All components are easily adaptable for use in any middle school, high school, community college, or vocational training program.
Each teacher completing the workshop series at Harbor Branch was eligible to apply for a $500 classroom grant. The grants will be used to aid in the development of school aquaculture programs. Congratulations to the following recipients and check back regularly for project updates.
Thomas Allison, Lake Weir Middle School – Beginner/Intermediate Aquaponics Program Teresa Blank, Coral Glades High School – Zebrafish and Conch Aquaculture Richard Brown, Lake Shore Middle School – Classroom Aquaculture Scott Davenport, Admiral Farragut Academy – Marine Science Academy Cindy Davidson, Youth Environmental Alliance – Aquaculture Explorations Sue DeBlois, Vero Beach High School – Environmental Technology, Aquaculture Section Susan Ferrell, Dowdell Middle Magnet School – Aquaculture Food Production in the Classroom Lucy Given, Plantation Key School – Conch Aquaculture for 5th Grade Carlos Gutierrez, Crystal River High School – Aquaculture for the Classroom Heather Judkins, Seminole High School – Adventures With Aquaculture Carl Melamet , Canterbury School – Aquaculture and Sustainability Wendy Norton, Bellalago Academy – Florida a Unique Habitat, Nothing to Snail at? Judy Nova, Manatee Academy – Manatee Middle School Aquaculture Lab Joanna Pearce, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – Conch in the Classroom Raymond Powers, Bronson High School – The Bronson Middle-High School Eagle Aquaculture Project Angela Ray, Fernandia Beach High School – Fernandia Beach High School Aquaculture Project Rebekka Stasney, Electa A Lee Magnet Middle – There’s an Ocean in my Classroom Marriette Stevensen, Gulf Breeze High School – An Introduction to Aquaculture: Environmental and Economic Benefits Joyce Vickers, Driftwood Middle School – Fishing for Answers Tracy Weaver, Centennial Middle – E’ Fishing Classroom