Why have a terrarium or aquarium in your classroom?
Three good reasons (and more) why you should have a terrarium or aquarium in your classroom! (Parents, many of the reasons below also apply to having a terrarium or aquarium at home. Why not give it a try!)
- Building a terrarium or aquarium supports the curriculum.
- Having a terrarium or aquarium in the classroom engages students in science in a way that whiteboards and books can’t.
- You can enter it as an exhibit in the Exhibition!
A terrarium or aquarium in the classroom supports the curriculum, specifically science, but with a little planning the experience can be interdisciplinary:
- Science: visiting the habitat, collecting plants and animals for the tank, predicting, observing, and recording the observations.
- Maths: there are opportunities for making graphs, calculating, and estimating.
- Writing: documenting facts, fictional stories.
- Research: students can find out more about the plants and animals from the library.
Building a terrarium or aquarium can be a positive team experience that:
- solidifies the curriculum content through the act of doing.
- allows students to interact with one another in different ways.
- allows some students, who might not shine in a more traditional academic approach to the subject, to participate in a positive, confidence-building way. Some students who are not excited about their class-work may be drawn in through working on the terrarium or aquarium.
Don’t be intimidated by the thought of a terrarium or aquarium in your classroom. Yes, it is a living experiment with, at times, unexpected and variable outcomes but, remember, students can learn valuable lessons from experiments that work and sometimes even more valuable lessons from experiments that don’t work.
If you’re concerned about what to do with your terrarium during the school vacations, an established and closed, balanced plant terrarium can survive indefinitely without any attention at all.
If you’re not sure how to construct a terrarium or aquarium, or need information about the island’s habitats or its flora and fauna, call the Bermuda Zoological Society’s education team at 293-2727, Lisa Ray at 293-2727 x 2110 (and/or visit the Local Tails exhibit at the Aquarium), or the Natural History Library librarian, Alison Green, at 293-2727 x 2125.
Any time is a great time to start your terrarium or aquarium! It will capture your students’ attention when, perhaps, the novelty of being in a new class is starting to wear off. If you want to enter your terrarium in the Agricultural Exhibition, starting a terrarium in the late fall or early winter means that there will be plenty of time to sort out any problems and allow your “habitat” to mature. It also means that you will be able to enter the Exhibition without a lot of last-minute running around. Just don’t forget to check the exhibition catalogue for the size and other requirements to enter the Exhibition and remember, get your entry in on time!