Learning Chemistry from a Saltwater Fish Tank - Student Research Foundation

Something Is “Fishy” in this Classroom …but it Is Educational

Mr. Reid Needed the Right Kind of Fish to Keep His Classroom Tank Healthy . . . and Educational

Mr. Reid, a grade 9-12 science teacher in Illinois, already had a beautiful big saltwater fish tank in his classroom. His 90+ students, who live far from oceans, loved it. Some of them were so inspired by it that they were dreaming of becoming marine biologists.

Yet Mr. Reid knew that the addition of just a few new fish could dramatically increase his students’ ability to learn certain key concepts. Mr. Reid’s tank didn’t have any Hawaiian Yellow Tang fish, for example which have the ability to eat algae and keep the tank clean. His tank also didn’t have a Copperband Butterfly Fish, which controls the growth of aiptasia, a kind of sea anemone that can harm the biosystem in a saltwater tank. And Mr. Reid’s tank also didn’t have a Tasselfish. He wanted one of those because they are cute.

Angling for those fish, Mr. Reid listed his classroom fish tank project on DonorsChoose.com. Soon, donors (including the Student Research Foundation) had fully funded the project. And today, Mr. Reid and his students are learning new lessons from nine new Hawaiian Yellow Tang fish, one Copperband Butterfly and one Tasselfish, whose cuteness is a draw for Mr. Reid’s students, about half of whom come from low-income households.

What “hooked” us on the Project

Mr. Reid explained that many of his students go on to explore college degrees and careers in a variety of health or science fields based on their experience in his chemistry class. Well done Mr. Reid!

He continued with the following:

My kids experience great success on their AP exams each year as I try to tie-in all the chemical processes that occur in our classroom reef tank as it relates to the topics covered on the AP exam. Hopefully, after learning about the reef and its inhabitants, my students will be more focused on helping preserve it in the future.

Thanks to the Student Research Foundation

Dear Student Research Foundation,

I just wanted to thank you SO MUCH for stocking our 200 gallon classroom reef aquarium with numerous Hawaiian Yellow Tangs and the beautiful Copperband Butterfly Fish. My students love caring for and learning about their reef inhabitants. They are also learning the chemistry that is going on inside the tank — from solution chemistry, gas laws, wavelength of light, Ksp, equilibrium, acid/base chemistry and buffers. Words cannot express how grateful my students and I are for your very generous gift.

Because of you, my students will gain a much deeper conceptual understanding and appreciation of all these topics and hopefully grow a deeper appreciation of the wonders and delicate nature of all the Earth’s inhabitants and that they will do their best to help preserve it in the years to come. You are truly the best classroom angel any teacher could EVER hope for!! Thanks again for all your help and generosity. You are just amazing!!! You really are!! 🙂

With gratitude,
Mr. Reid

Learning Chemistry from a Saltwater Fish Tank - Student Research Foundation

We look forward to writing about the success of more DonorsChoose.org teacher projects here on the Student Research Foundation blog. Stay tuned!

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