Beyond the Classroom Aquarium – (a non-fiction title for STEM educators)

The Beyond the Classroom Aquarium learning projects outlined here have been designed for use by all learners; Especially Children – (ESPECIALLY TEENAGERS🙂 )!!!

As I observe the field of educational analysis evolve, in social media and beyond, one seeming trend that interests me is that more pedagogists are becoming proponents of ‘educational craftsmanship’ standards – that may serve as essential guides by which every educator may develop strategies to reinforce his or her personal voice/vision during day to day implementation of curricula and in obtaining further professional development. My own pedagogical voice supports development of autonomous pedagogical craftsmanship. Beyond the Classroom Aquarium represents my  effort to help educators actively shape their own educational craftsmanship voice. On one level, Beyond the Classroom Aquarium presents a curricular sequence of 14 project based, STEM-Oriented aquatic ecosystem themed learning activities (a curriculum resource, a ‘take action now’ project guide). Educators who use it with their own students or participate in a related workshop/class will also find that they are being guided to craft & implement their own personalized educational voice/vision.

A plethora of suggestions to help educators make affordable project modifications are provided throughout the book. In addition to being educationally valuable, Beyond the Classroom Aquarium projects are affordable (though batteries are not included).

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.

Please also consider sharing your voice on this web/blog by writing a comment (in the space provided at the bottom of this page). Ideas relating to Beyond the Classroom Aquarium implementation and professional development are of particular interest. By dwelling here a moment longer (and bravely entering your comments at the bottom of this page) you will help establish a dialog in behalf of all students / learners and educators🙂

You may also “LIKE” this web/blog space if you find an idea on it of value to you, your students or community🙂

“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.
In addition to greeting NMEA attendees at this annual conference AND reconnecting with many marine education colleagues (like a family reunion), I also presented a session on June 30th, 2015 to personally introduce Beyond the Classroom Aquarium to the marine education community. And during the auction following the NMEA reception dinner a copy of this book was auctioned off. The annual auction is held to help raise funds for NMEA. If you are unfamiliar with NMEA please note that it is a branch of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) that focuses largely on increasing knowledge of the world of water and the practice of educating people about it. I am hoping to see Beyond the Classroom Aquarium mentioned in the “new books” section an upcoming edition of Current: The Journal of Marine Education; a “peer-reviewed journal of the National Marine Educators Association. It features lively, in-depth articles and activities relating to all aspects of the world of water….”


Beyond the Classroom Aquarium is now 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.

Please follow the link below to safely purchase a copy and have it delivered to you (...or a family member, friend, colleague, nature-center/museum gift-shop/bookstore, or local school/library) ( is an Amazon company).

If you want more information about Beyond the Classroom Aquarium than is provided on this blog, please request the information you would like to see  by submitting your request in the “comment” space provided at the bottom of the page/post you are on.

Many individuals and organizations have 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. Should you know of someone who might contribute to this curriculum, I will gladly work with them and acknowledge their contributions.
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. Although the new 2015 - 2016 school year has begun, interested educators still have plenty of time to explore the book and guide their students through many of their own favorite project based learning activities from it - throughout the school year.

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.

Please enjoy your visit here AND please take the opportunity to introduce yourself and share your Beyond the Classroom Aquarium ideas, comments, opinions, ideas, announcements, etc. for other readers to view before ending your visit here. Please also consider providing feedback for others if you have recently read 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 withn 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 book 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 (as sampled in Createspace preview materials), 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, peers, colleagues, students (and family). Please also visit the Beyond the Classroom Aquarium “CreateSpace link” at: (A six page PDF “Preview File” is provided on the book’s CreateSpace link for educators who would like to view introductions to chapters 2, 4 and 6 in Beyond the Classroom Aquarium – Information in this PDF File will further convince educators that the curriculum is worthy of their purchase)

Your comment is welcome. Specific details are appreciated. Please take a moment to introduce yourself to other readers in the space provided below. Share with us an idea of what drew you to this site? Are you an educatorin search of marine education related curriculum materials or interdisciplinary project based learning ideas? Did you land here accidentally? Might you (or someone you know) be interested in participating in a weeklong Beyond the Classroom Aquarium professional development workshop for educatorsIn particular, I would certainly like to know what additional information you think I might include (or change) to make your visit here more useful. AND please “LIKE” this page if you have found an idea on it of value to you, your students or community🙂

– Thank You.

5 Responses to “Beyond the Classroom Aquarium – (a non-fiction title for STEM educators)”

  1. onemoregeneration March 13, 2016 at 10:33 PM #

    Plastic Pollution is becoming one of the biggest environmental threats facing humans and animals alike globally. Please check out this award winning curriculum and let us know what you think:


    • Robert Jakus March 15, 2016 at 2:50 PM #

      Thank you for sharing your award winning plastic pollution curriculum here.🙂 Have you looked at ?


  2. Meri Tore March 23, 2015 at 5:36 PM #

    I have a great interest in innovative educational activities which engage students to their fullest potential. This book will be a blessing to any teacher who place their students’ education first.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pam allen March 7, 2014 at 12:55 PM #

    This sounds like it is exactly what I have been looking for! I am am alternative education teacher and work with students who are working below grade level. I have found that my students are more engaged and productive when they are doing hands on activities. They are not excited about textbooks or lectures but when you let them become a part of the activity they start exploring on their own, asking questions and discovering solutions.

    Today, we (the teachers at Calais High) are working on curriculum. We are supposed to be exploring proficiency based education, technology integration, lesson plans and grading. Your book will definitely be mentioned in the report that I will be submitting to my principal at the end of the day.

    Thank you!


    • Robert Jakus March 8, 2014 at 9:46 AM #

      Dear Ms. Allen:

      Thanks for your comment.

      I will send you updates as the publication status of Beyond the Classroom Aquarium nears completion.

      I am sure you will find ways to use this book for your students. The book is designed so that educators who use it will find the project descriptions in it to be structured but also flexible. It is designed this way intentionally so that educators can adapt any or all of the curriculum’s activities and projects so as to address ranges of knowledge and skill they deem most relevant to their own student’s educational needs.


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