Veoleta Stoica (left) and Parker Benfer (right) hold their fingerling trout before releasing it into Antietam Creek (below)
Ms. McBride scoops out a fingerling from a bucket to give to student to release into Antietam Creek
Jeiden Acevedo carefully puts his hand over his cup with his fingerling so it didn't jump out before he had a chance to release it into Antietam Creek
Lorane ESL students release their fingerlings into Antietam Creek
It’s not often that classroom “pets” are released into the wild–much less nearly 250 of them–but that’s exactly what happened this week when students from around the district had the opportunity to raise baby trout from eggs to “fingerlings” as part of “Trout in the Classroom.” This year, students from all three elementary buildings had the opportunity to be a part of the months-long curriculum, which is taught in classrooms throughout the US and Great Britain, and aims to teach students connections between trout, water resources, the environment and themselves by having students learn about aquarium setup, ecosystems, the life stages of fish, the environment of waterways, and then putting their knowledge to the test by raising fish from eggs to fingerlings (a young trout), eventually releasing them into an approved waterway.
Students start by learning and setting up a cold-water fish tank in January. Soon afterwards, they receive baby fish eggs, which live in an "egg basket" until they're developed enough to eat fish food on their own and be released into the full tank. In the tank, they grow and mature until they’re old enough to survive on their own and be released into a natural waterway. Throughout the process, students learn about the life cycle of the fish as they develop from an egg to a fingerling. Students keep a journal of their learning experience by drawing pictures and writing about aquarium equipment, fish stages, ecosystems and the waterways.
In Ms. Kristen McBride’s third grade classroom, students hosted the aquarium and shared their experience with Trout in the Classroom with their third grade penpals from Mrs. Stacia Miller’s Jacksonwald classroom, with whom they started writing letters to earlier this school year. Parker Benfer from Owatin Creek said that she loved writing to her penpal Veoleta Stoica at Jacksonwald about what it was like to raise the fish–as well as other subjects such as their shared love of pizza. The two, who just met in person for the first time on Monday morning, laughed together as they held a clear cup containing their fingerling. “I really liked that we all were able to be together today and get a chance to take turns releasing the fish,” said Parker. Veoleta agreed, glancing at the fingerling swimming in her cup, and said, “Don’t you think it is just so cute?”
At Lorane, students in all grades had an opportunity to visit with the fish in Mrs. Kellee Fries’ ESL (English as a Second Language) classroom as her ESL students acted as ambassadors, bringing their classmates up to her classroom to visit the aquarium and teach them about the life cycle of the fish and what they were learning. This allowed students to sharpen their English skills, while also learning about the life cycle of fish. Jeiden Acevedo, a fourth grader in Mrs. Marburger’s class, said he really enjoyed that he was given a leadership role to help Mrs. Fries clean and care for the aquarium. “I really enjoyed helping her change the water and helping her test the water in the tank,” he said. But he felt particularly proud when his class was invited into Mrs. Fries’ classroom to learn more about the fish and he was able to lead a lesson on how to care for aquarium water. “When my class came over, I had to teach them how to change the water because they didn’t know what to do.”
This week, on Monday, Owatin Creek and Jacksonwald released 102 fingerlings that they successfully raised into the Antietam Creek in Happy Landings, while Lorane released 136 fingerlings into the creek on Thursday. It was a bittersweet moment for many of the students who took pride in their role in helping raise the fish. “I’m glad we all had a chance to take a turn,” said Parker, as she and Veoleta held their cup together and watched their fingerling swim away in the creek.