Kentucky students care for trout in science class
Posted: Friday, February 4, 2011 9:37 am
By WILLIAM CROYLE
The Kentucky Enquirer
INDEPENDENCE, Ky. (AP) — The head count in Autumn Hendrickson’s fourth- and fifth-grade science classes here at White’s Tower Elementary School jumped by about 200 one day last month, thanks to some welcomed guests who will be staying through the rest of the school year.
Roughly 200 rainbow trout eggs hatched in the classroom last month. The students are now taking care of the fish as part of their science curriculum, and will continue to help them grow until releasing them into the wild in May.
“Trout in the Classroom” is a program from the Bluegrass chapter of Trout Unlimited, a national organization focused on “conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.”
White’s Tower is one of 15 schools in the state raising the fish. It received nearly $1,500 in equipment from Trout Unlimited, including a 55-gallon tank and accessories.
“We try to give them all the resources, including some lesson plans, but let them decide what direction they want to take it in,” said Sandy Broughman, conservation director of the Bluegrass chapter.
For example, Broughman said, a third-grade class in the state last year kept journals on the trout each day, using the experience primarily to improve their writing skills.
Hendrickson’s students are focused on the science aspect by learning to monitor water quality, understand ecosystems and develop a conservation mindset. “We’re also learning responsibility,” said fifth-grader Avery Fossitt. “We’re taking care of wildlife, and we need to show that we’re responsible enough to do it.”
The fish were the size of “a poke of a pencil” when they hatched, said fifth grader Connor Ernest. They’re now about an inch or two long. They will grow to be 3-4 inches by May when the students will release them into Big Bone Creek in Boone County.
A blog of the progress of the fish is being kept at www.whitestowertrout.blogspot.com.
Hendrickson has been updating the blog, but will turn it over to the students in the next few weeks. Hendrickson said they have followers from throughout the state, Cincinnati and a school in Savannah, Ga.
“The whole project has been great for the kids, and it’s real interesting to watch how quickly they pick up on things,” Hendrickson said.
Cleaning the tank, changing the water and repeatedly testing the water to make sure it’s livable for the fish is a lot of work, but the kids are loving every bit of it.
“We actually get to see and do experiments rather than learning from a book,” said fifth-grade student Rebecca Pruss.
For Broughman, whose chapter has about 400 members, it’s a chance to expose a young generation to ecology with a hands-on approach.
“What’s meaningful is that we’re getting kids to learn all about this,” Broughman said. “The Trout in the Classroom program is training a new group of conservationists.”
Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com
Published in The Messenger 2.4.11