Hello Reefing Community, My name is Brandon Rutherford and I teach in a third grade classroom at Garden Hill Elementary School in Champaign Illinois. One of my goals is to connect my students to the reef community and give the encouragement they need to learn new skills. As a class, my students and I built a tank from scratch and installed all of the support systems needed to maintain it. They are really into all of the different pieces of equipment and how it works. The marine biology, chemistry, and environmental ethics learned by building and maintaining the reef system are integrated into most areas of my curriculum. We use expository writing to document what we are learning. We read books about chemistry, marine biology, and ecology. Students have already taken over most of the detailed tasks necessary to cater to the chemical and physiological needs of the reef ecosystem. They can do all of the water tests, clean the skimmer, mix salt water and do water changes, frag coral and many of the other complex things reefers have to learn to move up to the master level. Every classroom/student in the school, and several community groups, are allowed to access it. My students and the children who come in to help, take the responsibility of keeping the reef system healthy very seriously. Many live in extreme poverty and some are homeless or in the foster care system. They have never been trusted to oversee a project this magnitude and all have risen to the occasion. Many stay after school or give up their recess time to care for it. The reef system exposes students to an ecosystem many of them will otherwise never see. It provides a hands-on contextual platform for complex science instruction. It also is a source of wonder for the entire school. I have documented much of work we have done on the aquarium on my classes website. Please check it out for more information: http://mrrutherfordisawesome.weebly.com/reef-system.html I will show this post to my class everyday. Please respond with well wishes or questions.