Mount Airy Middle School science students are thinking inside the tank this year for one classroom project.
Students in Jeannie Noble’s sixth grade classes have teamed up with the local chapter of Trout Unlimited for what they are calling a unique experience. The students will spend much of this year raising trout eggs in a classroom aquarium. At the end of the project, any trout that survive will be released into the Ararat River, which the NC Wildlife Resources Commission recently deemed an acceptable environment for trout.
Dick Everhart delivered the rainbow trout eggs to the class Friday afternoon and students spent time observing the eggs including their size, shape and color. Everhart also spent time explaining to students about the proper care for the eggs. He cut pieces of insulation to cover the outside of the aquarium, which has its own air conditioner, in order to keep it dark so the water will be more oxygenated.
Once the eggs hatch, students will remove them from the protective basket and take down the insulation so the fish can move to where the water is coldest.
Throughout the process, students will keep watch on the eggs and later on the trout to make sure they are developing properly. They will be responsible for monitoring the pH levels and ammonia levels of the water as well as the temperature of the water, which should hover around 57 degrees. They also will be responsible for cleaning the tank. Students will keep a lab book with all of their observations.
“One guy in North Carolina started this program and Jeff Payne, our local chapter president, got really interested,” said Everhart of the start of this particular program. “Because of the work done at the Ararat River, they wanted a program in Mount Airy.”
This particular project ties in with the middle school science curriculum which dictates that students study ecosystems and population dynamics.
“We’ll walk down to the river to look around, check the pH levels and compare that to the water in the tank,” said Noble. “The students will be able to be involved with what’s going on.”
The class will compare notes with a school in Wilkes County that has successfully completed this project in the past. Trout Unlimited has a number of resources students can use including games they can play regarding trout. Mount Airy Middle School is one of only 22 classrooms across the state to participate in this program and the only school in Surry County.
Noble also plans to incorporate Project iLearn into this experience. Students in grades five through nine in Mount Airy City Schools recently received iPod Touches to use as additional classroom resources. Noble had students use the video camera on their iPod Touches to video the trout eggs when they were delivered and will continue to have them use the cameras to monitor their progress. Eventually, she plans to have them upload their videos and pictures to a central Web site.
“This is one of those opportunities you can’t pass up. Every experience they can have makes them better students,” said Noble of her decision to participate in this program for the first time. “They may not remember what they read in the book or what I talk to them about in class, but they won’t forget that in their classroom they had a huge tank where they got to watch eggs develop.”
Contact Morgan Wall at email@example.com or 719-1929.
Read more: Mount Airy News - Classroom project is a little fishy