As Batavia Middle School science teacher, Paul Moore, grappled with the task of fall leaf removal from his newly acquired garden pond, it was at this time, unbeknownst to him that he would begin a project unlike any before. One that would spark imagination and be forever embedded in the minds of his students. “I was seconds from removing the pre-formed pond liner that the previous owner so half-heartily installed,” Moore explained. Luckily, for his students he decided to breathe a second life into his decrepit garden pond.
After a few months of research, Moore was anticipating the spring weather that was approaching in this suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. Anxiously, Paul drove to the fish store and made his first fish purchase. “I started off with a few small Koi and with a little patience and help from my local fish hatchery, I had a beautiful pond by the end of June. Every evening that summer would end with my wife and me sitting by the pond watching Chester, our largest fish.”
Knowing that the next school year was just around the corner, Moore was begrudging the fact that he would not get to spend as much time with his newly adored garden pond. It was while sitting by his pond one evening that he decided that he was going to install a pond in his classroom. The decision was easy. The tough part wasn’t going to be convincing his principal but rather discovering a method to pay for it.
“I walked into her office and just said it, ‘Susan, I want to put a pond in my classroom’.” She laughed but honored the request.
Moore was pretty confident that what Principal Susan Hakel heard was, “I want fish in my room” but what she got was an over 400 gallon indoor koi pond. The first step after getting the approval was to go beseech the local businesses for financial help.
The first stop that Moore made was to his local farm supply store. Moore acknowledged there was potentially one imperative obstacle that would put the brakes on this project immediately, a pond that leaks. To combat this, Moore decided that he would utilize a farm stock tank and a rubber liner. After traversing through the wide varieties of stock tanks, the perfect candidate was selected. It was a slightly beat-up six foot round tank that was two feet deep. “I told the manager my intention for the stock tank, and he made me a very fair deal.” With the tank purchased, Moore sought the services of the local fish hatchery in Newtown, Ohio. Jones Fish Hatchery proved to be an invaluable resource in the project.
Their experienced staff helped select several Pondmaster Mag-drive pumps, a Pondmaster Ultra-Violet Clarifier, and a Pondmaster 1250 submersible filter. Moore chose to go with a completely submersible filtration system due to the size restraints of his classroom and location of the pond. The Jones staff was not only more than willing to offer expert advice but also awarded Moore and his students a sizable donation. Moore found it quite easy to locate people who were equally excited about his project. “I am very grateful for the kind people and businesses that helped make this project possible.”
The goal of this project was to enrich and advance student skills beyond the state-mandated curriculum. In the first few weeks of school, Paul Moore’s 8th grade science students were researching, designing, engineering, building, and maintaining an aquatic ecosystem that gave them the opportunity to practice workplace and career readiness skills. “When construction began, I had students who had never pulled the trigger on a cordless drill, never read a tape measure, and didn’t know how to use a builders square.” It was surely a learning curve for these students but through trial, error, and plenty of practice, these students produced a very high quality Koi Pond.
The pond has become an everyday staple in Moore’s student’s school day. Students are required to perform all maintenance to the pond. Taylor Albright a student, said,” I really like having the pond in the classroom. It teaches us responsibility, but it doesn’t really seem like work.” Students were also challenged to research, design, and construct prototypes of submersible pond filters. In the future, students will research and create a comprehensive Koi care guide that includes information ranging from general care to caring for an ailing Koi. “No one wishes for an ill fish but having the pond in the classroom gives students an opportunity to experience first hand how to nurture ill fish back to health.” The value of such experiences go beyond the scope of any textbook, rather they are learning skills that are applicable to real-life.
I would also like notoriety for my sponsors:
Jones Fish Hatchery
The Stone Source
Photos by Vincent Woyan