Oceans Toolkit > Nursing Grounds for Fishs - A nursing grounds for fishes

Ocean Literacy

Ocean Literacy consists of 7 principles. Understanding these principles is essential for understanding how central the oceans is for the planet and its inhabitants, over and under the surface.

There is one big ocean, rich on food, energy and much more. Without the ocean the climate would be rough and harsh - the ocean regulates the climate.

Under the surface we are still discovering new species, even new eco systems, and these new discoveries are only top of the iceberg. The ocean is diverse and versatile.

When learning about the ocean, the pupils are more likely to want to conserve it. Working to improve biodiversity locally, will mirror how the lager system can benefit from changes in how we as humans interact with the ocean and a more sustainable future. Therefore, we want to inspire the pupils and give them a sense of empowerment and agency and place and community.

Building Nursing Grounds for Fishs will be a conservational act, but equal as important, it will add some perspective for the pupils and learning about the ocean will have a meaningful outcome. They will feel like they are actually making a difference. Learning about the ocean, knowing what, how and why is crucial for designing and building an effective Nursing Grounds for Fish.

With the above, we hope that knowledge, skills, engineering, creativity and technology will go hand in hand, and make the pupils more ocean literate.



Teaching and Learning Map

The Nursing Grounds for Fish-project is molded around a ”design thinking” approach called “Engineering design process” (Danish TM0dk|English TM0uk|Spanish TM0es). Engineering as a teaching practice concerns how to identify a problem in the real world and to design and construct a practical solution to this problem. An engineering project always start with “Understand the challenge” and ends with “Present solution”. The process in the middle is iterative and does not have a specific starting point. One might start with “Develop ideas”, but “Explore” might be a better starting point. Although the process looks linear when presented here on the website, it’s NOT

Understand the Challenge

Show video "Understand the challenge" (Danish TM1dk|English TM1uk|Spanish TM1es) to set the stage for the Nursing Grounds for Fish project.

Here are some ideas on how to commit pupils to the challenge and focus their attention

Present design criteria for Nursing Grounds for Fish (Danish|English|Spanish TM6es) and decide the location of where the Nursing Grounds for Fish is going to be installed in the port/marina.

Explore the effect on the marine life with driving question as focus.

We highly recommend to involve an aquarium and/or invite another “expert” (e.g. commercial/recreational fisherman/nature guide) to school for access to expert knowledge. You can find your local aquarium here (Danish |English TM14uk|Spanish TM14es). We also recommend to use game based learning activities like “Food chain role play” (Danish |English TM13uk|Spanish TM13es) to introduce concepts like food chain and food net, predation.

Dissect a native fish species. This could be facilitated by your local aquarium.

Aquarelle of fish; We suggest that the pupils use creative art techniques like watercolour/aquarelle to paint one of the native fish species (the one they have dissected). This sharpens their observational skills and make them pay attention to the distinct shades of color and streamlined body.

Explore how the Nursing Grounds for Fish-construction can be made to last the tough conditions in saltwater. Have examples of materials for the Nursing Grounds for Fish and tools available for the pupils to feel, touch and explore. Scaffold embodied/material dialogTM12. “Is metal strong enough for withstanding the force of wind and waves?”, ”What happens to steel in saltwater?”, “Can galvanized steel be a good option?”.

To evaluate whether the Nursing Grounds for Fish has an effect, the pupils need to observe and document the site before and after introducing the Nursing Grounds for Fish. We recommend using digital technologies like underwater 360 camera and VR-headset to see changes in the organisms present.

Measure abiotic factors like salinity, temperature, light, nutrients. See an example of an observation template here. Compare to validated dataset published online (Danish |English TM15uk|Spanish TM15es).

Develop ideas for Nursing Grounds for Fish – use creative pedagogies.
Depending on the degrees of freedom, the design limitations is optional. We recommend that the outer dimensions of the Nursing Grounds for Fish are given as design criteria, along with the materials (see videoTM11). This leaves the interior design to the pupils.
This leaves the interior design to the pupils. Invite pupils to use their understanding of a natural shallow coastal habitat, when developing their ideas for design for the different compartments for shells and shelter. Scaffold dialog with relevant terms (e.g: How does a natural shallow costal habitat for fish larvae and settlers look like?).

Brainstorm also on how to monitor the Nursing Grounds for Fish. How do one observe whether the Nursing Grounds for Fish is “solving the problem”? Will you find life, what kind of organisms will be present? How will the seasoning and change in temperature effect the life in- and outside the Nursing Grounds for Fish? Will there be fish both in- and outside the Nursing Grounds for Fish?

Concretize/plan construction and location. Decide the exact location of where the Nursing Grounds for Fish is going to be installed and how to attach the Nursing Grounds for Fish to the jetty/pillars/concrete walls/floating dock. Construct Nursing Grounds for Fish scale model/prototype (with e.g cardboard) based on criteria to visualize the design and how the internal compartments are going to be constructed. This may very well be a transdisciplinary activity where scale drawings, geometry and/or 2D/3D digital design apps (e.g. Tinkercad) comes into play. Plan for materials. Use results from exploration of materials when planning.

Apply for approval with relevant public official and/or local port/marina authority. Use prototype and list of materials for the design. Involve pupils in this as an authentic writing assignment. Se an example here (Danish|English|SpanishTM31es). Plan for how to monitor how the Nursing Grounds for Fish impacts the marine life. (e.g. filming with underwater 360 camera mounted on a pole or float). When pupils have to document the effect of the Nursing Grounds for Fish to assess whether it can be improved, video taken at intervals over a longer period are a good tool. They become “expert observers” when they must find small clips that relates to their driving question. It is a great help to cut them out so that they only have the small sequences to relate to. It gives a clear picture of life going on in the sea over a period of time. They get ideas of what is happening underwater that they usually cannot see.

Construct the Nursing Grounds for Fish according to plan. Depending on the design, constructing the actual Nursing Grounds for Fish will take from 2 hours to a full day.

Improve the design Underway while constructing, the pupils will meet challenges that they had not predicted – they will then need to improve the design to overcome these challenges. Summarize the ideas in the group. Discuss the best solution with “best of” from each group and make the blueprints for best construction.

Present solution: What makes your Nursing Grounds for Fishs particularly good – special features? Select video clips to illustrate their findings. Design VR360-resources with own clips. Be creative with VR/AR to help others understand. Local vs. global impact on ocean (system thinking) (Biodiversity, environment …). How do we communicate to our local community how the Nursing Grounds for Fish has impacted the marine life? What would you have made different if you had the time, or were to make a version 2.0?



It is challenge have pupils observe what unfolds under the ocean surface. At the aquarium you have a chance to see how it all unfolds right before your eyes. It is possible to watch organism in a habitat similar to the organisms natural habitats. You can study behaviour and the outer morphology of the animals and use the knowledge to be more aware of how the marine organism behave and live in the ocean.

When you are in an external setting there are more opportunities to involve different senses and learning activities with “hands on” are easier to promote. The “hands on” activities will together with “minds on” activities combine the theory and practise in a way that can influence the learning outcome. The students will in an aquarium have the opportunities to watch some of the organisms that will live in the Nursing Grounds for Fishs. That can promote an engagement in the project.

Visiting the aquarium can be of great value for the kids and teacher. The knowledge base here is huge, and working together, staff and teacher, its possible to incorporate inhouse and external subjects for the kids.

At the aquarium, the pupils will get to meet a professional, working with marine life. Involving him/her in the project can be useful. They will have specific knowledge on the local marine ecosystem. Maybe you can work together on launching the Nursing Grounds for Fish on a location specified by the staff from the aquarium.

Conservational work is part of the aquarium’s agenda, and therefor this can be a great opportunity for them. Other than that, getting the proper approvals by local authorities can be easier the aquarium on board.



The Big Picture

Along our coastline, we find many examples of man-made “urban” installations like commercial ports and marinas that affect the marine life. Here it is often less biodiversity because of habitat degradation. In this KS2 resource, pupils are challenged (Danish BP0dk|English BP0uk|Spanish BP0es). to design, build and monitor a nursery for small fish find food and shelter. A Nursing Grounds for Fish is (much like an insect hotel) an artificial habitat designed to shelter small fish (larvae and settlers stage) from predation. Pupils are engaged in inquiry-based science education for change. Together with the local aquarium, they are investigating key concept like adaptation, behaviour and food chain and principal ocean literacy ideas that the ocean supports great diversity of life and ecosystems and that we as humans and the ocean are inextricable linked. At the same time, they are taking small steps towards environmental awareness, a sense of responsibility for a more sustainable use of our oceans and agency for making a difference in their local community.

The Nursing Grounds for Fish-resource is moulded around an engineering design challenge. The pupils are introduced to “lack of biodiversity”/”lack of food and shelter for small fish” as a major problem in their local port/marina – and are asked to design and build a Nursing Grounds for Fish with materials like galvanized rebar net, chicken wire and different marine shells. As part of their inquiry into how the Nursing Grounds for Fish effects the marine life, they document and monitor their Nursing Grounds for Fish with 360 camera/ VR-headsets using digital technologies as producers. The Ocean Connection VR-tool plays an important role in documenting and communicating their findings. Creative teaching and learning are an integral part of the resource, where the design phase and aquarelle painting are examples where we recommend applying creative pedagogies. Connections between the principles drawn for ocean literacy & digital/creative pedagogies can be identified in multiple ways, particularly in the student-centred foci, the relationship between the ocean (natural world) and its relationship with us (the humans), and a questioning, inquiry stance central to science in society.



Creative Pedagogies

Creative pedagogies has proven to be able to help pupils relate to and connect with the Ocean at an emotional, physical and an intellectual level. In the Nursing Grounds for Fish project, we suggest using creative teaching and learning in multiple ways.

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In the Teaching and Learning Map we suggest that the pupils use creative art techniques like watercolour/aquarelle to paint one of the fish species they observe close to the Nursing Grounds for Fish. This sharpens their observational skills and make them pay attention to the distinct shades of colour and streamlined body. Taking time using different techniques to nail the small details of e.g. the herrings silvery colour with an bluish back and slender body also promotes inquiry about why a specie got it’s characteristics. Creative pedagogies often give room for an explorative dialog where pupils develop their scientific ideas and language. Although it might be hesitant and incomplete, it enables the pupils to try out their ideas, to hear how they sound when articulated, to see what peers make of them in an inclusive and playful setting. This allows them to sort and arrange information and ideas into patterns – to learn scientific ideas like adaptation and relate the ocean literacy principals to their lived-in world.

Creative teaching and learning are also an important part of the design process of the Nursing Grounds for Fish. To come up with new ideas for their Nursing Grounds for Fish design, they will need to work transdisciplinary and take risk, immerse themselves and be playful.

Pupil empowerment and agency is a core principle in creative teaching and learning and might be a key for them to fully engage with the Nursing Grounds for Fish challenge, develop their Ocean Literacy and act on their learning to make positive change for the marine life in their community. Creative pedagogies designed to promote emotion, affect and empathy and embodied/material knowledge and dialogue can assist in breaking down barriers due to the inaccessible nature of the ocean and promote a sense of place and community.


Digital Technologies

The ocean is not easily accessible, its often quite difficult for pupils to get primary experience with marine life, especially within a school setting with a lot of safety restrictions. This is even more true in a commercial port or a marina where vessel traffic also is an issue. In the Nursing Grounds for Fish-project, we suggest to use digital technologies like 360 cameras and VR-headsets to record and monitor how life around the Nursing Grounds for Fish evolves, in stead of having to dive on site or pull the Nursing Grounds for Fishs out of the water. Although the project values ocean literacy learning before technology, it’s important to acknowledge that the use of these technologies also gives pupils the opportunity to be producers of digital content and acquire technological literacy.

Using 360 underwater camera (e.g. Garmin VIRB 360 or GoPro MAX) to record at the Nursing Grounds for Fish-site will document the development and changes to the marine environment over time and provide students with real data. In the pilot project, the pupils documented the site for a full year, but this is not necessary for observing the effect of the Nursing Grounds for Fishs. If the Nursing Grounds for Fish is deployed in early spring, a lot of interesting changes are seen well before the summer break.

The recordings (360 video or still images) can be uploaded to the Ocean connection VR-platform and stored in the cloud. Each recording (360 image or video) is GEO-located when uploaded to the platform. The VR-platform offers tools for pupils to edit and enrich their recordings.

Using a VR-headset (e.g. Occulus Quest 2 or Google cardboard) to look at the recordings afterwards, will emerge the pupils in the ocean in a very realistic way seeing the invisible. The immersiveness of VR almost makes them feel physically submerged. They can spend a long time just looking around, exploring this new world. Watching the recordings with VR-headset provides a very realistic experience for the students, and it is a good and motivating way to work with data collection and evaluation. If your school do not have access to VR-headset, the pupils can access the 360 recording on the VR-platform using a standard tablet/computer.

Students become very attentive and active viewers if they have to find and select small sequences that show marine life in and around the Nursing Grounds for Fish. The 360 recordings can also prove helpful when pupils are redesigning the Nursing Grounds for Fish to improve their effect on the marine life.

The 360 video can be a good tool for storytelling . This storytelling can be facilitated by adding text, sound, video, 3D-objects, and hyperlinks on the Ocean Connection VR-platform or on third-part platforms like Co-Spaces. This experience can be shared with others across EU.



Teacher Reflections


Nursing Grounds for Fish

A Nursing Grounds for Fish is (much like an insect hotel) an artificial habitat designed to provide food and shelter for small fish (larvae and settlers stage) in ports/marinas. It helps restoring ecological function that was lost when natural shallow coastal water was turned into a manmade environment.

One Breath Explorer

A Nursing Grounds for Fish has a two-cage system. The inside cage is filled with empty shells. This is a good substrate for epifauna like algae. Epifauna provides food and shelter to the small fish. The outer empty cage has larger openings, allow the small fish to enter, but still provides protection from larger predators.

The resource is designed as a classic engineering challenge: To design and build a shallow costal habitat – a Nursing Grounds for Fish – of galvanized rebar net, chicken wire and different material (e.g. shells).

Video: ConstructingNursing Grounds for Fish.mp4 not found!

You can find an example of the design criteria for the Nursing Grounds for Fish challenge here (Danish|English|Spanish BI1es). You need to update the criteria to suite your needs.

Dimensions We recommend that the Nursing Grounds for Fish-cage is about 100 L. Depending on the material at hand (se below) we have used the following exterior dimensions:

Materials The Nursing Grounds for Fish will be exposed to the elements (waves, tidal currents; ice) and need to be made of durable materials.

Cable ties: to tie the mesh panels together. You can also use galvanized wire for this – but it takes longer and demands more skills to make it a tight fit.

Galvanized wire. To secure the chicken wire to the cage.

Recommended tools for construction:

Seashells as substrate for epifauna
Shells of marine mollusks (e.g oyster, blue mussel and clams) is a “natural” epifaunal substrate easily available on most locations. Be aware that shells of invasive species like Pacific oyster need proper pre-treatment to avoid any unwanted introduction. We highly recommend to let pupils explore the different shells and their suitability as substrate.

Location in Marina
You need to find a suitable location for the Nursing Grounds for Fish in the port/marina. It needs to be accessible and out of harm’s way. If you plan to build more than one Nursing Grounds for Fish, it makes good sense to locate the Nursing Grounds for Fishs in different environments to compere the effect of changes in biotic and abiotic factors (e.g. salinity; light, oxygen, nutrients).

Apply for approval in good time with relevant public official and/or local port/marina authority. Use prototype and list of materials for the design. Involve pupils in this as an authentic writing assignment. Se an example here (Danish|English|Spanish BI2es).