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RE:’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 – 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 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

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 ships their FielkKit water-station to me.

i also wonder if 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: where possible. And….


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!

A List of Questions About Beyond the Classroom Aquarium (for example: Why does it not cost less? Why select it over curricula produced by major publishing houses? Why use it when student success would require extensive effort, time, work and support? Why use this curriculum in view of the financial expenses it requires? and more)

20 Apr

Starting with…

        Question NUMBER TEN-A;

10A. Why, Aside from:

  • Receiving 60% royalty on all monies beyond the minimum $41.90 sale price that covers Kindle’s printing cost ($25.14) and other fees ($16.76)? As for example the price for this book is currently set at $58.56 I may expect to receive a royalty of $10.00. ….AND;
  • After years of committing portions of my own personal teaching salary funds to procure and install classroom aquatic ecosystem materials, equipment and livestock, AND;
  • Committing further personal monies associated with attendance at more than a dozen classes, professional conferences and professional development workshops to explore and develop Beyond the Classroom Aquarium? curriculum related ideas, AND;
  • Dispensing additional funds associated with royalty payments to other publishers who granted premission to use portions of their content in Beyond the Classroom Aquarium, AND;
  • Considering the many intangible costs associated with years of reading, studying, photocopying, etc. related to the curriculum, AND;
  • Years (20+) spent thinking, writing, and revising conceptual designs of the Beyond the Classroom Aquarium curriculum and the persistence to complete it; Why then

        … does this book not cost less?

Moving right along to:

          Question Number 10-B

10B. If

  • a publishing company did not publish it (Beyond the Classroom Aquarium is self-published and print on demand) …and
  • my school district’s curriculum committee did not authorize adoption of it,

Why should I give it the time of day? After all, a lot of experts and top dollar educational corporations have developed and endorsed a plethora of reviewed and highly rated curricular materials.

     … Question Number NINE

9. The level of knowledge and skill required of the lead teacher in this project based curriculum is uncommonly extreme. Getting students to be successful with this curriculum would require extensive effort, time, work and support. No thanks (Please share your reaction to this comment).

    … Question Number EIGHT.

8. It would cost way too much to implement the projects in this curriculum at my school (a small fortune). Even though it may well be worth it, where do startup funds to implement this curriculum come from? Why DIY so many systems and components when many high quality components can be purchased (plug and play). Cutting corners and finding novel ways to design and produce system components is just not how I view my role as an educator (Please share your reaction to this comment).

    … Question Number SEVEN.

7. Projects in this curriculum are designed to address modern day math standards, next generation science standards, and standards relating to integration of technology, engineering and the arts into learning activities. This kind of integration may make daily work with students more complicated than some educators might prefer (Please share your reaction to this comment).

      … Question Number SIX.

6.  The man who wrote this curriculum has put a lot of passion into it. Somehow he devised a way to unify all of these aquatic ecosystem themed projects into a logical curricular sequence. In addition to being a veteran educator (of more than 35 years), he went to great lengths to ensure this work would address a range of issuses of interest in numerous professional aquatic ecosystem fields of study and work. Obsessive/compulsive? Maybe he should have just joined a rock band instead? (Please share your reaction to this comment).

     … Question Number FIVE.

5. How can modern day persons perform these projects via digital learning or while being home schooled? These conditions make implementation of such a project based curriculum even more difficult. (Please share your reaction to this comment).

     … Question Number FOUR.

4. I think students would never buy-in to a yearlong project based, aquatic ecosystem themed structuted sequence of multidisciplinary learning activities. They have such limited attention spans and get bored so easily….  What do you think? (Please share your reaction to this comment).

    … Question Number THREE.

3. What examples of application of knowlegde and skill could be presented from students who have participated in this sequence of projects – in science, technology, engineering, art, and math? The author seems to think that learning about aquatic ecosystem is an enriching vehicle for guiding students to learn math & more (and apply it in real world contexts). (Please share your reaction to this comment).

     … Question Number TWO.

2. What might a classroom look like after a full school year of successful project participation in all 14 projects and related assessment activities has occurred? Could such a learning space serve as a demonstration  model and professional development learning space? (Please share your reaction to this comment).

     … And finally, Last but not least,

         Question Number ONE.

1. Has this author put together a Beyond the Classroom Aquarium professional development workshop for interested educators; a workshop that could be held in an operational beyond the classroom aquatic ecosystem learning space? Would it be FREE? (Please share your reaction to this comment).

I believe you can find answers to these questions and many others in the book. I will be happy to read your own comment about any of the questions on this list or other relevant concern(s) even if you have not yet read or used this curriculum. In particular, I am deeply interested in what you believe a fair price for this book might be. What do you think is a reasonable expectation for a royalty of this book? Although I did not write this book to make money I did hope I might recover expenses in the process of sharing this amazong curriculum.

Thank 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.”



                                                  “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.


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.

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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