In Eric Litvinoff's aquaculture class, the tanks aren't much older than the inch-long tilapia he's cultivating.
His class is part of the curriculum at the brand new Marine Sciences Magnet High School in Groton, which is dedicated to the study of the sea.
After 13 years of planning, the school opened in September on a cutting edge, environmentally-friendly campus with a philosophy of collaboration and flexibility.
Here, the students work on an alternate day schedule. One is for land, two if for sea.
On any given day, half the students spend four extended periods learning English, math, social studies and foreign languages. The next day, they delve into science and aquaculture.
The aquaculture lab is the nerve center. Every tank can be calibrated to mimic the temperature and salinity of any body of water in the world to study its native creatures.
The tilapia here will grow to market size by the the spring, when the students will sell the fish to benefit the school.
The aquaculture extends off campus as well. Marine Sciences Magnet has 45 acres of oyster beds in Long Island Sound, just half a mile from campus. It's the only school in the country to own their own beds.
That's just what brought Mike Frazier here.
"I've wanted to do marine biology since I was in second grade," Frazier said.
He's tailor-made for Marine Sciences Magnet, but Khiara Phillips just wanted something different.
"The thing I feared the most when I came here was that I wouldn't be in touch with my friends from eighth grade or the friends I have from New London," the freshman said.
After classes end, she and dozens of others return to their hometowns for extracurricular activities, including sports.
This year, Marine Sciences Magnet had 100 ninth and tenth graders from dozens of towns across Southeastern Connecticut,,
But by 2013, about 250 students will take classes here. The hope is that they all agree with Mike Frazier.
"Every day I come home from school, and I say I had a lot of fun here," he said.