A Secondary School Classroom Physiology Project in Marine Biology:
Building Life-Size, Life-Like, Anatomically Detailed Models of Fish From Simple Materials
Barron Anatomical Models® of Fish
About Jonathan Barron
About the Project
Jonathan Barron holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and English from the University of California Santa Barbara and a Masters of Environmental Studies from the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
He holds a California Single-Subject Teaching Credential in the Biological Sciences. He is a certified SCUBA diver and an Eagle Scout. Mr. Barron worked as a Science and Math teacher from 2002-2009.
While a teacher he was the recipient of two grants--among them the prestigious 2007 Fund For Teachers Grant--and he was the recipient of the 2007 NOAA Teacher-At-Sea Award. He presently works as the owner of his own insurance business while staying involved with marine science education projects. He designed the fish models project, now named "Barron Anatomical Models of Fish," during the time in which he worked as a marine biology teacher.
After seeing the project’s success in the classroom, Jonathan teamed up with the University of Hawaii Curriculum Research Development Group and the Los Angeles Natural History Museum to create a series of videos showing how to build the project. He later enlisted the help of Marcela Flores, a freelance web designer, to create a How-To website working together with the videos.
During the week preceding the beginning of the 2006-2007 school year, Barron began planning his curriculum for marine biology by looking for the first time at the textbook he would need to teach from, The Living Ocean; (Third Edition, 1999) by Kleem, Reed, Pottenger, Porter and Speitel.
The book is based in large part on the physiology of marine organisms. Barron thought for extensive periods of time about how to make this material easily palatable and fun, and he started by bringing tree branches – cut from his backyard tree – to class with a box of wire twist-ties, to have students build fish skeletons. This then led to the natural next step of needing muscle to fill in between the bones. Once the muscle was in place, it was clear that the next body system would be an easy additional step, and soon it was clear that a larger project was at play. Over the next 9 months he guided his class in a year-long project, culminating in his students creating life-size, life-like physiological models of fish from simple materials.
He showed the project to Joy Wolf, Director of Education at the time for SeaWorld San Diego, who encouraged him to show it unofficially in the SWMEA group of presenters at the 2007 National Science Teachers Association Conference, which Barron did. Wolf also encouraged him to officially present the project at the California Science Teachers Association Conference that same year. Barron presented a Workshop at the 2007 CSTA Conference entitled “Life Size Anatomical Fish Models from Simple Materials.”
Forward by Joy Wolf
Making science come alive is critical for the success of every teacher. We strive to find the spark that will engage students and allow them to begin the journey of exploration and discovery that comes along with the knowledge and thrill of science.
When I met Jonathan Barron, I knew I had met a teacher that had found the "secret". Within five minutes Jonathan had me engaged and excited about what he was doing in his classroom to provide the spark that made his high schools students get excited about science. People have been teaching fish anatomy for hundreds of years and Jonathan tried a different approach. He vision was to allow the students to build a fish from the inside out. The physical building of several large life-sized fish allowed the type of movement and energy that truly engaged his students in learning about fish anatomy. With simple household items and some encouragement of the student's natural creativity, Jonathan found a winning combination. HIS STUDENTS GET IT. They learned the lesson and could also teach the lesson to others.
I hope that Jonathan's curriculum and techniques enliven your classroom and add a spark of fun and energy to your science lessons.
- Joy L. Wolf
SeaWorld San Diego
The material featured on this website was prepared by Jonathan Barron in cooperation with the Los Angeles Natural History Museum and the University of Hawaii Curriculum Research and Development Group.