During the summer term we decided to enhance our aquarium at Rachel Keeling. As part of our School Development Plan we wanted to create a living, breathing environment the children could care for and develop their scientific understanding in a meaningful way. The children, staff and families at Rachel Keeling have been lucky enough to be introduced to Ian, a local marine biologist. Under his expert eye (as well as that if his faithful canine, Olive) children and staff have researched habitats and fish types which could help support the children's scientific knowledge. Following visits to the local aquarium supplier as well as talks with Ian and research using books and iPads, a Lake Malawi aquascape was decided upon which would be populated with mbuna fish.
Then began the task of clearing and preparing the tank: this involved children (and Chair of Governors) problem solving, lifting, cleaning, collaborating and painting the tank. Some additional rockwork was purchased and filters, thermometers and cleaning magnets checked. The tank was filled with water and we needed to prepare the water for the fish. This included feeding the bacteria as this will break down fish waster. Amonia and nitrite levels had to be checked daily by the children and they used a traffic light system to signal if the habitat was ready.
Children have sustained interest and became increasingly independent in the monitoring of the tank. We now have children who are the aquarists of the week: they have the responsibility of monitoring the tank checking and recording the pH, nitrite, ammonia levels and the temperature, cleaning the tank and ensuring it is topped up.
During this time, a core group of children also visited the London Aquarium with their families and staff to further support their understanding of organisms that live in fresh and salt water.
Next is the task of stocking the tank. Our mbuna fish are currently in quarantine in Wholesale Tropicals on Roman Road.
Like our Shoppers of the Week this is a sustainable and meaningful means by which children contribute to the daily life and routine of the school and deepens their scientific knowledge.
Watch this space...