Be Healthy as a Fish

The purpose of the Be Healthy as a Fish educational program is educate children about how zebrafish as a model organism can help scientists understand the way the human body works, both in health and disease. The program is directed toward children who are 9-12 years old. According to the Polish educational system, children at this age attend the 3rd to 6th grades of primary school. We introduce Be Healthy as a Fish workshops, together with two kinds of materials under the same title: a book and a movie. 

Be Healthy as a Fish book
The book brings the complex world of science closer to young readers. Because the book is addressed to primary school children with elementary knowledge of the life sciences, it is illustrated with cartoons to make the content more interesting for a young audience. Moreover, to help readers absorb the story’s message the book provides engaging assignments. A short glossary define terms that are used in the book that may be difficult for some readers to understand. Importantly, the factual content was created in consultation with an educational biology expert to ensure that the message of the story is both understandable and inspiring for a young audience. The book is distributed to all of the participants of the Be Healthy as a Fish workshops as an invitation to broaden their knowledge beyond the issues that are discussed in their classes.

Be Healthy as a Fish movie

The aim of the movie is to familiarize viewers with IIMCB’s facilities and scientific interests and show what scientists’ everyday work lives look like. This 6-min movie is mostly animated. However, part of it shows real images of various locations within the institute (e.g., laboratories, fish facility, office of the Director of IIMCB, and a lecture hall where the workshops take place). The storyline of the animation consists of a humorous tour around the institute that is guided by two cartoon characters: the Professor and a zebrafish. During the tour, the children are told the reason why the zebrafish facility was established, and they can witness the formation of a new international team of scientists. The viewers are informed that science has no borders, and new discoveries result from the joint efforts of scientists around the word, who exchange information during seminars and conferences. Both Polish and English versions of the movie are available on the IIMCB YouTube channel.

Be Healthy as a Fish workshops

A typical workshop begins with presentation of the Be Healthy as a Fish movie. The children are then shown two tanks: a classic glass aquarium with gravel, plants, and other decorations and a bare plastic tank from the fish facility. Guided by the tutor, the children are asked to describe the differences between the two fish housing systems. The children then observe 1- to 2-day-old zebrafish embryos under a stereoscopic microscope. They  are frequently fascinated by the beating heart of the little fish and its eyes. Next, children are instructed about zebrafish embryogenesis, and pictures of different developmental stages are distributed among the children. They work in groups and are instructed to arrange the pictures in the correct order according to the developmental stage. The children are asked to recall the reasons for choosing zebrafish as a model organism that were mentioned in the movie. The similarities between humans and zebrafish are then discussed. The tutor explains that the simplest organisms are unicellular, whereas complex multicellular organisms’ cells are organized into organs. In the last part of the classes, the children are divided into three groups that work in parallel. The first group is given a stencil of a fish and stickers that depict various organs with the task of sticking them in the right places. The second group completes a crossword puzzle to help them memorize the information that they learned. The third group examines water properties by performing calorimetric tests and measuring the pH and hardness of tap water and aquarium water. Water analyses are supervised by research technicians who take care of the zebrafish at IIMCB. Children are permitted to perform water tests themselves and have the opportunity to ask questions concerning zebrafish husbandry, fish biology, operation of the fish facility, and other issues. At the end of the workshop, the students are given the Be Healthy as a Fish book and a three-dimensional bookmark with an image of a zebrafish. They also have some spare time to take humorous pictures that show their faces in the body of a zebrafish or a shrimp.


Presentation about the campaign at 9th European Zebrafi sh Meeting in Oslo, Norway

Poster prize at 6th European Forum for Marketing of Scientific and Research Organizations in Warsaw, Poland

Publication in the Zebrafish Journal (Goś et al., 2016, doi: 10.1089/zeb.2015.1195)

Presentation about the campaign at 7th European Forum for Marketing of Scientific and Research Organizations in Warsaw, Poland

 Publication in the Polish Journal of Environmental Sciences “Wszechświat” (no 10-12 2016)


 "Be Healthy as a Fish" book

Book cover


"Be Healthy as a Fish" movie


Publication in Zebrafish

Be Healthy as a Fish Educational Program at the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw, Poland
Goś Daria, Szymańska Ewelina, Białek-Wyrzykowska Urszula, Wiweger Małgorzata, and Kuźnicki Jacek. Zebrafish. June 2016, 13(4): 266-271. doi:10.1089/zeb.2015.1195.

Be Healthy as a Fish Educational Program at IIMCB