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Would You Rather: “Wish Upon a Star? Carry Moonbeams Home in a Jar? Be Better Off Than You Are? …Or, Would You Rather…” Design & Assemble Aquatic Ecosystems (for an entire school year)?

9 Feb Photo by Robert Jakus

The title of this post is intended to convey an idealized spirit of free and engaged learning. The popular song upon which this post title is based is: Swinging on a Star.” According to Wikipedia, this song “is an American pop standard with music composed by Jimmy Van Heusen and lyrics by Johnny Burke.[1] It was introduced by Bing Crosby in the 1944 film Going My Way, winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song that year,[1][2] and has been recorded by numerous artists since then. In 2004, it finished at No. 37 in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.”

As it relates to the book/curriculum, Beyond the Classroom Aquarium, the title of this post invites teachers and learners to actively exercise their own choice, voice and Joyfullness in pursuit of knowledge and understanding. Every word in Beyond the Classroom Aquarium is intended to encourage students to engage in a uniquely personal sequence of learning projects. The educational jargon might call this “agency.”

According to his Indiegogo fundraising event in 2016, Bob, the author, is a knowledgeable and caring educator – recently retired; An “old-school” character in an ever-accelerating society; he appreciates natural and universal principles of our common “human condition.” He admires classical thinkers like Socrates, Plato, Euclid, Archimedes, Epicurus and Edu-Thinkers like Dewey and Escalante. Bob has long held hopeful expectations for a more peaceful and healthy society.

Bob continues to have an abiding interest in further sharing his Edu-Vision thru intensive weeklong ‘Beyond the Classroom Aquarium’ Professional Development workshops (as reflected in his previously unsuccessful Indiegogo curriculum PD campaign).

If this post puts a song in your heart then it has been of some great value. Thank you for visiting.

RE: FieldKit.org’s Ongoing Effort to Provide Unique, Open Source, Technological Opportunities for Local Students to Engage in Authentic “State of the Art” Environmental Data Collection/Analysis Processes (hardware and software)

19 Jul

It has now been more than 25 months since (Beyond the Classroom Aquarium &) I first received an exciting announcement from Fieldkit.org – about FieldKit50 awards – shared below. Every day, since receiving the announcement from them, I have been imagining what this awesome FieldKit opportunity will provide for students in my sphere of influence (via camps, school and park district programs and other formal/nonformal educational plarforms) etc.

During our 2020-2022 Covid existence, the virus (among other things as described in FieldKit’s blog) have been delaying FieldKit’s efforts to expediently fulfill the FieldKit water-station shipment commitments they were dedicated to prior to the full emergence of today’s world-wide economic and socio-political ‘s viral gridlock. Please see this FieldKit blog that describes some or their recent setbacks and amazing efforts to resolve factors that have been delaying successful completion of their product development mission.

As I await the next contact from FieldKit.org I have faith that they are engaged in an ongoing process to fulfill their offer to provide a unique technological opportunity for local students to engage in authentic “State of the Art” environmental data collection (and citizen science fieldwork) – Thank You for Your Ongoing Efforts FieldKit.org

As of August 2, 2022 and despite occasional but reassuring email corresponence from FieldKit, I believe readers of this Beyond the Classroom Aquarium blog/post will be interested to see exactly when FieldKit.org ships their FielkKit water-station to me.

i also wonder if FieldKit.org still intends to produce a blog post that publically introduces all fifty FieldKit50 winners? I wonder if the other 49 contest awardees have been as on edge about this as much as i have. To me, I am beginning to feel that receiving the water-station now symbolizes some kind of return to a more stable/reliable pre-virus existence

Below is a copy of an email announcement I received on June 23, 2020.

Exciting News about your #FieldKit50 Application

Congratulations Bob, you’re getting a FieldKit!

After reviewing almost 200

Congratulations Bob, you’re getting a FieldKit!

After reviewing almost 200 entries from all around the world, we’ve chosen you as a winner of our #FieldKit50 giveaway. We’re so excited to see how you end up using your station. Here are the important details:

We’re going to put together a blog post announcing you and the rest of the winners in the coming days. We’ll be following up in a couple of weeks to….

Stations will ship in Fall, 2020 (our production schedule has been impacted by COVID-19). We’ll get you a more exact date when we have one.

Feel free to share the good news!

We’d love it if you used the #FieldKit50 tag & linked to our website: https://fieldkit.org where possible. And….

Yay!

The FieldKit team”

If you are at all familiar with my Beyond the Classroom Aquarium curriculum you will understand how excruciatingly awesome it was to receive this announcement. I have only been able to imagine sharing this kind of technology with students for the past 30 years!

I’m looking forward to exploring this FieldKit technology with local students & project teams for years to come. Thanks to FieldKit & Conservify, someday soon many students will have fabulous “state-of-the-art” opportunities to learn a lot more about current best-practices & technologies used for environmental monitoring, data collection & analysis & formulation of environmental policy & practical applications to pursue based on data/science & beyond.

Although by October 29, 2021 it seemed FieldKit would soon complete final rebuild & performance testing of water units and be rolling them off the FieldKit production line (released for purchase), it seems as of August 2, 2022 more unexpected delays have prevented shipping. I am looking forward to receiving a FieldKit water station. In the meantime, I will continue seeking ways to support local businesses and neighbors and hope you will try this too for those in your corner of the world.

Thank you FieldKit for your ongoing efforts and gallant mission.

“…to give people the tools to measure the world around them and empower everyone to advocate for the environment. FieldKit aims to dramatically reduce the cost of research-grade environmental sensors, and to simplify the processes of data management, visualization and sharing.” (2019, FieldKit in the Real World)

I have not given up on you!

Beyond the Classroom Aquarium – A Non-Fiction Title for STEM Educators

19 Jun

 Beyond the Classroom Aquarium learning projects have been designed for use by all learners!

One trend in the field of educational analysis that interests me is the seeming increase in the proportion of pedagogists who are proponents of skillfully applied ‘educational craftsmanship’ by which every educator may implement strategies to more effectively apply his or her personal voice/vision during day to day work with students and also obtain more personally relevant professional development. Beyond the Classroom Aquarium is my “grass-roots” contribution in support the development of autonomous pedagogical craftsmanship. I believe some peers will appreciate that it offers much more than just another educational twist on the recent trend in aquaculture curricula.

Beyond the Classroom Aquarium presents a curricular sequence of 14 project based, STEM-Oriented aquatic ecosystem themed learning activities students will love. Some use it as a curriculum resource; others as a ‘take action now’ project guide. Many educators who use it with their own students or participate in a related workshop/class also find that they are being guided to refine & implement their own personalized educational voice/vision.

In addition to being educationally valuable, Beyond the Classroom Aquarium projects are affordably scalable. A plethora of suggestions to help budget challenged educators make affordable project modifications are provided throughout the book.

As you review information provided here, please try to imagine scaling and implementing one or more Beyond the Classroom Aquarium project for your students – in your learning space.

“Many educators will find practical value in this innovatively hybridized curriculum….”

“I’m not familiar with another project based, aquatic ecosys-STEM themed curriculum  that is as comprehensive.”

               “Beautiful….”

                                  “Encyclopedic….”

                                                  “I am impressed….”

The above remarks were expressed by #NMEA15 conference (National Marine Educators Association) attendees who sat down with me, during the conference (in Newport, RI), and reviewed Beyond the Classroom Aquarium.

BookCoverPreview[1]

The NMEA is a branch of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) that focuses on increasing knowledge of the world of water and the practice of educating people about it. Beyond the Classroom Aquarium was recently mentioned in the “New Books and Media” section in the Fall 2016 edition of: Current: The Journal of Marine Education; a “peer-reviewed journal of the National Marine Educators Association. Current features lively, in-depth articles and learning activities relating to all aspects of the world of water….”

Until Dec 31, 2016, Beyond the Classroom Aquarium was available as an 8.5″ by 11″ softcover book available through Createspace’s “Print on Demand” (POD) service. It is 347 pages in length. This book provides guidance and structure that educators find useful for effectively leading students through a yearlong Curricular Sequence of 14 Project Based, STEM Oriented Aquatic Ecosystem Themed Learning Activities Their Students Will Love. Designed to start on the first day of school and continue throughout the year, I believe innovative educators will find a lifetime’s worth of projects and ideas in this book (through which they may guide their students. It is now available through the Kindle Direct Publishing eStore.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/061599606X

Many individuals and organizations granted me permission to share their ideas with fellow educators (and students). These persons and organizations are acknowledged in the “Acknowledgement” post that is listed below.

I am deeply grateful to my many peers who have demonstrated a keen interest in reading Beyond the Classroom Aquarium and applying information presented in it as they work with their own students. Beyond the Classroom Aquarium was designed to be used from the first day of a new school year – every day – until the school year concludes. 

Although more information about the book is provided in the remaining text on this page, you may also read more about Beyond the Classroom Aquarium, it’s structure/format, and also review my grateful acknowledgements to those who have directly supported my efforts to pilot various activities with students by clicking on a link to one of the four bulleted posts below. The fourth post provides information that offers readers a fuller sense of my background and credibility as author of Beyond the Classroom Aquarium.

A General Overview of Beyond the Classroom Aquarium:  A Curricular Sequence of 14 Project-Based, STEM-Oriented, Aquatic Ecosystem Themed Learning Activities Your Students Will Love

Although titled: Beyond the Classroom Aquarium, the primary setting for the projects and activities described in this book is the classroom. However, scattered throughout the curriculum (particularly in the final five projects 10 – 14), despite the curriculum’s classroom setting, projects are designed to guide students to extend their application of skills and knowledge in STEM-Oriented and aquatic ecosystem themed learning activities well beyond their classrooms. The book’s title is intended to denote that the classroom activities and projects described in it are creative and transformative spin-offs of introductory classroom aquarium activities. Each of the seven chapters describes ways to guide secondary students through a structured sequence of aquatic ecosystem themed, STEM-oriented, project based learning activities.

By participating in the project based activities described in this book, students are exposed to concepts and skills that encompass but are not limited to: oceanography, physics, chemistry, biology, aquaponics, gardening; designing, critiquing, and constructing aquatic ecosystems (involving trades of carpentry, plumbing, and electronics); data collection, data analysis, design of auxiliary aquatic ecosystem components, microscopy, aquaculture, propagation of invertebrates, (from algae to coral), computer automation of aquatic ecosystem components, research design, community service, cultural awareness, public outreach (and public sharing of research results). Although most projects are designed to occur within a classroom setting, some activities are designed to help students directly apply developing knowledge and skills ” beyond  the classroom.

Beyond the Classroom Aquarium is an ambitious curriculum for in-service veteran educators, students in pre-service education programs and other educators who seek bold approaches for providing comprehensive, individualized and year-long STEM-Oriented instruction in a unique and high interest, aquatic ecosystem themed project based learning context. The material in Beyond the Classroom Aquarium serves as a curricular template that educators may follow in guiding their students through the structured sequence of activities described in the book.

Chapter and section introductions are designed to encourage teachers to both personalize and scale the activities in Beyond the Classroom Aquarium to best meet the needs of their own students, school and setting. Information in each chapter introduction is also intended to encourage autonomous teacher decisions and actions required to guide students through the project activities. Educators may supplement Beyond the Classroom Aquarium project work with other educational resources and textbooks of their own choosing. Throughout, teachers are encouraged to guide students through an individualized math curriculum and help them explore direct connections between the math concepts they are studying and math related aquatic ecosystem concepts. Technological and design/engineering related activities are also important components of every project.

The book provides enough structure and information to enable teachers to guide their students through a yearlong series of STEM-Oriented aquatic ecosystem themed learning projects. Yet most teachers will appreciate the encouragement they are given to utilize their own instructional autonomy, flexibility, and newly discovered resources, to thoughtfully deviate from the program described in the book. Many timely technical support suggestions teachers will find easy to follow are also provided.

Unlike other curricula, daily involvement with classroom aquarium projects in Beyond the Classroom Aquarium allows students expansive and authentic hands-on exploration, discovery, inquiry and knowledge development; all under the guidance of an educator; in the context of a classroom or other amenable educational setting.

Included among the key features and benefits students derive from participation in the yearlong series of projects in this thoughtful anthology of aquatic ecosystem themed learning activities, is the recurrent opportunity to authentically apply newly developing skills and knowledge with each successive project.

In addition to helping students achieve common standards, and exposing students to a structured sequence of high interest, hands-on aquatic ecosystem related activities in the areas mentioned above, Beyond the Classroom Aquarium is written so as to ensure that all students are critically challenged; nurtured to acquire entrepreneurial skills that enable them to turn ideas into action; and guided to develop a critical mix of success-oriented attitudes of initiative, intelligent risk-taking, collaboration, and opportunity recognition.

Thank you for visiting! Come on back and bring your friends, pets, peers, colleagues, students (and family).

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