Trout in the Classroom

June 2, 2019 0 By Sarah

We know as educators it can be very difficult to keep all students engaged, focused, and learning, at the same time. Trout in the Classroom was one way I was able to create a perfect balance between education, community involvement, and fun, that kept all 32 of my students engaged.

This 8- week activity aligns with the goals of my school improvement plan. In an effort to keep students engaged in the curriculum, we were looking for ways to allow them to learn with a more hands-on approach. I was able to allow the students to have access to an enriching curriculum through Trout in the Classroom, as well as desirable hands-on approach that would have otherwise not been available using my district curriculum. Also in alignment with our school improvement plan, is allowing the community to play an active role in student learning. This would allow community members, local organizations, and parents to get involved.

Trout in the Classroom is a program run and sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The program is in high demand, but can unfortunately only support a small number of teachers, however this number is rising each year. Each teacher must be sponsored by a local conservation organization to cover the cost of supplies, equipment, and trout eggs. I was lucky enough to be sponsored by Doug Darling from Friends of Lake Chabot. After paying a small fee, I was signed up for a training in Oakland, California that would certify me to raise and release rainbow and steelhead trout.

        This training was an exciting and informational 8-hour class that taught teachers how to properly care for and raise trout from day-old eggs to 6-8 week-old fry. We received an abundance of materials from local companies and curriculum developers that would help aid in our classroom teaching. We received engaging curriculum, posters, teaching aids, games, and activities to implement in our classrooms. We learned how to control the temperature of the water and create an environment that they fish could thrive in. Once we received our equipment, we eagerly awaited for the arrival of our trout eggs.

            This is when I started getting the students and parents excited about the opportunity. The students were preparing for the arrival of our eggs by reading, researching, and writing all about rainbow trout. Soon, 50 trout eggs were delivered to the classroom. The students were overjoyed and could not wait to take part in the experience. Each student was able to drop at least two trout eggs into the tank. They named their eggs and quickly wished them luck in their life cycle adventure.

A local artist volunteered to paint a cover for our tank in order to give the fish the darkness that they needed to develop properly. This was another way that the community became involved with this activity. From here we studied, researched, experimented, observed, and delightfully watched our trout eggs hatch into alevin, and grow into their next life stage as a fry.

          After 32 days, I planned a field trip to Lake Chabot, to release our rainbow trout. We invited the local newspaper, families, friends, and the community to be a part of this experience. We had many eager participants and worked with local scientists and conservationists to set up learning stations around the lake in order for the students to study other organisms within the ecosystem.

The turn out was better than I could imagined! There were 100 little scientists running around the lake studying bugs, plants, animals, and fish. They were talking with local scientists and conservationists finding out how they can make a difference in keeping the ecosystem clean and thriving. The overall experience was a lot of work but was worth every second. It was such a success and allowed the community to be directly involved with the classroom. It also allowed parents and families to be involved in the experience as well. The students were beaming the next day, seeing themselves in the local paper making a difference in the community. Check out our article!