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A Classroom Dreams Are Made Of

By Leonard Ho - Posted Oct 15, 2012 08:00 AM
In 2011, the York Public School (Australia) began an extraordinary outreach program to educate and inspire local children about coral reefs. Through partnership with the Sydney Aquarium Conservation Fund and their LFS (Salt Aquariums), teacher and aquarist Benjamin Eggins set up a 240 gallon reef aquarium in his classroom ... and brought the living sea to his students.
A Classroom Dreams Are Made Of

Where was this school when I was a kid? Photo (and aquarium!) by Benjamin Eggins

Benjamin Eggins is a teacher, coral reef lover, and experienced reefkeeper.  By combining his passions and skills, Eggins was able to convert an average elementary school classroom into an engaging place of learning with the installation of a 72x36x24" living reef aquarium.

The York Public School reef project is a first-of-its-kind "coast guardian" environmental awareness outreach program.  The classroom aquarium is financially supported by the Sydney Aquarium Conservation Fund (SACF) and equipped by the local fish store Salt Aquariums.  SACF's hope is to expand the program to other schools.

School of fish for school of children

By all accounts, the children have taken to their reef aquarium like ... well ... fish to water.  Not only have educators observed an increased interest in sea life and conservation, but they have also remarked on how students are more eager to learn.  Their parents have also shown great interest in this vibrant slice of living reef.

You may ask why a school in Australia - home to the Great Barrier Reef - would need a reef aquarium to raise awareness about coral reefs.  The reason is Australia is a big place (nearly the same size as the United States), and the nearest coral reef for York Public School students is thousands of kilometers away.  Local children now have the opportunity to experience the coral reef that so many people know their country for.

Visit the York Public School Coral Reef Research Program website for more information and photos of their exciting project.  Here is video of their maturing reef aquarium one year after inception.

Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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