Fishers Island School’s Living Reef Bio-Rock Project

by Jane Ahrens

The project is a perfect fit with Fishers Island School both environmentally and educationally and will catapult us to the next level in our continual quest to provide our students with rich, community-based learning opportunities. ~ Karen Goodwin, Fishers Island School Principal

Two years ago Fishers Island School’s Board of Education adopted the Schoolwide Enrichment Model based on the school’s strong commitment to the core educational values that are embedded in the building of a living reef project.

Fishers Island School has partnered with Eccosolution to construct 3 small scale Bio-Rocks off the shoreline of Fishers Island. Bio-Rocks can be composed of coral, oysters, sea grasses, and/or salt marshes. Some of the goals of Bio-Rock are to provide shoreline protection, habitats for organisms, and water filtration. The geodesic steel dome structures are placed in the intertidal zone and coated with calcite and aragonite precipitated from the seawater using a small low voltage charge to the domes. The energy supplied to the domes will be captured by two 100 watt marine grade solar collectors and stored in two deep cycle marine batteries located on shore.

Fishers Island School science and technology students (presently approximately 19 student volunteers) in grades 9-12 have the opportunity to be involved in the endeavor. These students participated in the construction of the domes, and will be involved in their placement in the water, monitoring the development, and documenting the data. This project enables students to be involved in original research involving an innovative method of marine restoration. It will allow students to study the effects of increased biodiversity on an ecosystem, beach erosion, and wave patterns.


Interdisciplinary Curricular Connections:
The newly revised Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have been augmented with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that focus on the core curriculum of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and also the cross cutting of these subjects with English and Math grade levels. This STEM project crosses many disciplines of science and will also be integrated into the classroom. For example, deposition of minerals such as calcite and aragonite from the seawater is a real world illustration of electro-chemistry that is part of the NYS Regents chemistry curriculum. Bio remediation, habitat destruction and preservation, and water quality are main components of the NYS Regents Living Environment curriculum. The nature of wave energy and the dome’s interference patterns will be studied in the NYS Regents physics curriculum.

Technology Education and math students will be asked to participate in this activity as part of the curriculum for their Principles of Engineering class, a class based on the concept of STEM. They will be taking an active part in the construction of the geodesic dome, evaluating the materials used, and the shape of the structure. Students will also be participating in the domes placement on the ocean floor, assisting divers with optimal positioning. Correlations between voltage output from the onshore solar panels and weather will be collected and analyzed.


The Living Reef Project provides a yearlong experience that fosters all of these educational goals. It also provides a model project to demonstrate the viability of the technology for its multiple beneficial uses, all of which can be applied by the community on a Fishers Island-wide scale. Students are highly motivated to engage in this most important and exciting work.

Students, teachers, the principal and Board of Education members at Fishers Island School are tremendously excited about the opportunity for our students to work with the Eccosolution team on this project that will positively impact our island community in countless ways, from shoreline protection to marine restoration.

Next Steps

  • Assemble Dome #3, and down Solar / Battery power system
  • Deploy/install Domes, January 2015
  • Monitor Bio-Rock Growth, January to October 2015
  • Add Juvenile Oysters and Monitor Growth Monthly, April to October 2015
  • Complete Project and decide to end, continue or expand, November 2015

Molly “I like the way we put it together. The construction of it was really cool.”

Noah “I thought it was cool that the school is actually able to get it out here.”

Emma “What I like best is that we are the first school that gets to try this out.”

The Preparation
(Click on any photo for a larger version or to view as a  slideshow.)

The Construction

Photos and story by Jane T. Ahrens

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

A Fishers Island Community Center Program and the accompanying Fog Horn eNewsletter serve as the communications resource for the Fishers Island community. The content – news, calendar, links and photos, milestones, ads, and more create a clear image of Fishers to those on and off the island.

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