Classrooms Become a Virtual Fish Tank with Fabien Cousteau

Fabien Cousteau, world-famous oceanographic explorer, is making history with his Mission 31 exploration, and giving thousands of students around the world the ultimate field trip through Skype in the classroom.

Fabien’s latest exploration pays homage to his grandfather, Jacques Cousteau, and the successful attempt at saturation diving during at 30-day living experiment in the Red Sea in the 1960s.  Fabien is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his grandfather’s original mission by broadening the first experiment by one full day and an additional 30 feet of saturation. It’s called Mission 31 and it’s all taking place aboard the Aquarius lab, the world’s only underwater marine habitat.  From there he is reaching out to classrooms to show them both the tight quarters inside a real working lab and the beauty of the marine life around him.

Fabien and his Mission 31 team are helping raise issues around the diversity, pollution and critical needs of the underwater habitat. Connecting students via Skype to the world beneath, empowers them to take an active part in preserving our oceans. According to Fabien, less than five percent of our oceans have been explored, so there is plenty more discovery left for eager students.

Recently, a handful of first through fifth grade students at Willard Elementary School in Ridgewood, NJ had a chance to participate in a Skype session with the Mission 31 team. Second grader Julia Szymanski thought “it was so cool to see all of the animals living outside of the window in the ocean” and classmate Owen Herrera “loved the tour of the lab. I learned that it’s hard to be living underwater for a month!”

Even the fifth graders were impressed: Ethan Cronk “thought it was really cool to learn about how they’re making coral reefs,” and Hannah Delfico said the experience “was very powerful and I think it’s awesome to ask a question to someone like that.” Perhaps the biggest surprise came to second-grader Nathalie Chow who “couldn’t believe they had a REAL kitchen under water!”

Photo by: Cecily Healy
Photo by: Cecily Healy











Teacher, John Altieri said, “We love using Skype in the classroom, because we get to see different perspectives of what others are doing which really brings us out of our classrooms without having to move from our seats.”

By video calling with the Mission 31 team, the students feel like they are alongside the explorers, diving deep. Beyond gaining an appreciation for our oceans, students are learning career possibilities and how they can save our planet.

In addition to Skype, Fabien’s team is using Instagram, Twitter chats and classroom sessions via streaming video at to give millions of people a rare glimpse into the intense life of living below sea level.

Fabien’s mission inspired a category of lesson plans and resources for all teachers about exploring our oceans. If you want to get your students involved here.