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Cheyney Aquaculture Program Partners with William Penn School District

Dr. Steven Hughes

August 21, 2012

Students returning to Penn Wood Middle School in Darby this fall are in for a big treat, thanks, in part, to Cheyney University Biology Professor Dr. Steven Hughes. He’s collaborated with Beverly Julal and Elmore Hunter of the William Penn School District to bring several tanks of fish from Cheyney Univerity’s Aquaculture Research and Education Laboratory (AREL) into the middle school classroom.  The fish will become part of the curriculum for Science Teacher Susan Chan-Peters and her class.  She hopes that the lessons they teach will not just be limited to the science classes, but will cut across the curriculum and involve math, writing, social studies and business education, as well. 

"Programs like this one are being developed for teaching our students the details of science and, more importantly, how science impacts all areas of education and life," said Hughes, Director of AREL.  "Programs such as this truly engage students and integrate all areas of the curriculum. This integration starts to give practical meaning to all classes as the students learn how to observe, analyze, and explain the things they see."

The aquariums will be purchased by a grant written by Julal as part of her 21st Century After School Program which seeks to expand students’ exposure to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines. Dr. Hughes and his students will set up the tanks for aquaponics, which is the raising of both fish and plants in the same system. The AREL staff will provide technical support for the youngsters, as well as periodic lectures on aquaponics and ecology so the middle school students will get a true appreciation for how these aquariums and larger ponds and rivers work. The hope is that these aquariums are just the beginning and that the AREL staff will be able to set up larger tanks and work with the teachers and staff to move this program into the district high schools.

"AREL was started back in 2004 with the expressed purpose of providing both research and educational opportunities to support the schools and aquaculture businesses of our region and opportunities to reach into our communities and help give our youth a different perspective on things.  It is as exciting for me as it is for the students," Hughes enthused. "This is a part of Cheyney University's mission and we look forward to working on similar programs with other districts in the future."