Seabass in The Classroom

Aquaculture for Students

Seabass in the Classroom is a hands-on program offered by Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute that encourages students to be practical problem solvers and increase their interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) topics.

This unique aquaculture program allows students to personally grow, feed, monitor and release seabass which inspires them to become the next generation of marine scientists that will ensure a healthier planet. Seabass in the Classroom also increases student awareness of aquaculture benefits; including sustainable food production, depleted fishery replenishment, a reduction of our country’s reliance on imported seafood and an increase in jobs that revitalize our working waterfronts

Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute provides Seabass in the Classroom to more than 1,000 students at 11 schools throughout southern California, opening their minds to career and higher education opportunities in science and the environment.


Why do students need to learn about aquaculture?
Currently, we import 91% of the seafood that we consume in the US. Importing all that seafood costs us $16 billion annually – the second-most expense for the US after oil importation. Plus, that seafood carries a large carbon footprint; we’re importing all this seafood in from other countries that has to be shipped or flown in on transportation powered by fossil fuels.

The human population keeps growing, so we need to eat more food from high-protein sources, but we can’t seem to catch more fish. We’ve tried bigger boats and better technologies, but there are just fewer fish out there – the amount of fish caught in the wild has been decreasing or stagnant since the late 1980s. Aquaculture seems like the best solution, and it seems to be trending that way – 2009 was the first year that we produced more fish worldwide from aquaculture than we caught in the wild.

America has the most coastline of any country to support these aquaculture efforts, so we should take advantage of it. That way, we’d decrease our dependence on other countries, decrease our trade deficit, and stimulate the economy by producing jobs. Engineers, nutritionists, aquatic biologists, veterinarians, and more are all needed to smoothly operate a fish farm – there’s so many pieces that go into making sure a facility is successful. We’re working to educate and inspire the next generation, as they’ll be the ones building, designing, and creating the next generation of fish farms to feed the US population.

What does the Seabass in the Classroom program entail for students?
The Seabass in the Classroom (SITC) education program is the only saltwater classroom aquaculture program in the state and it was started to provide students at schools in southern California the opportunity to learn about aquaculture, fisheries, and seafood sustainability by growing juvenile white seabass (WSB) in their classrooms for release into the ocean. Through this novel, hands-on, STEM classroom program, students are learning about societal issues, such as food security and emerging industries, through fun and engaging science and technological aspects required to support the growth and sustainability of the aquaculture industry in southern California and the nation.

Each classroom has a purpose-built recirculating marine aquaculture system for the culture of white seabass, which requires student participation with system maintenance, water quality monitoring, feeding, food conversion efficiency, and basic fish husbandry as a supplement to classroom instruction about the science of aquaculture. Students measure, weigh, and tag the fish prior to getting a health inspection by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, after which they release the fish into the ocean. Additionally, they participate in discussions of the health of the oceans worldwide, the nutritional benefits of eating seafood, and the historical trends of fishing and population increase. Furthermore, students get the opportunity to tour HSWRI’s 22,000 sq. ft. hatchery, the only marine fish hatchery on the West Coast of the US.

Personal experiences like this program, along with adequate resources and reliable educational research, are important to assist teachers in teaching ocean and aquatic sciences and related environmental stewardship.

How does the Seabass in the Classroom program align with the Next Generation Science Standards?
The SITC program is unique in that it provides opportunities for cross-functional learning – not only are students engaging with science and aquaculture principles, but they are also engaged in math calculations, science reading comprehension and analytical writing, research presentations with their peers, and computer skills through statistical analysis.

Lesson plans have been developed by HSWRI specifically to align with the Next Generation Science Standards; these lesson plans are free and open to any teacher, regardless of participation in the program, and can be accessed on the Lesson Plans section of this site.

What is the impact of the Seabass in the Classroom program?
This program exposes over 500 students each year in 11 partner schools that have released over 3600 fish back into the oceans of southern California. Many of these students attend Title I (low income) schools or are at schools through Program Involvement School Choice (PISC) and come from inner city areas where they don’t have as much exposure to the ocean and marine life.

I don’t have a tank in my classroom. How can I engage my students with SITC materials?
Head over to the Lesson Plans section of this site – lessons that can be done with students without a tank system are marked with an asterisk (*).

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