An Egg-citing Story
BY CAREY EDWARDS, IRON RIVER NFH
For the past twelve years, raising trout and salmon in the classroom has been common place in the Northwood’s of Wisconsin. The program started at the Superior Middle School and has since spread to Northwestern, and Ashland Middle schools. What better way would there be to teach students about the life history of trout and salmon then to have them raise fish in the classroom? All it takes is a 30 gallon aquarium, chiller unit and trout or salmon eggs. The equipment is quite costly, but with the help of two local sportsman’s group donating the funds for chillers and aquariums, the schools were up and running.
The last ingredient for the program was eggs and Iron River National Fish Hatchery agreed to provide lake trout eggs for the program with the stipulation that the fish would be humanly euthanized at the projects end. (This is due to stringent regulations and permitting in the transportation of fish due to disease concerns.)
Nearly 900 students spread out in three schools, welcomed 500 eggs into the aquarium mid-October. They monitored water temperature daily and made sure the conditions were perfect for the developing fish. Excitement abounded when the eggs hatched, followed by surprise and disappointment that the newly hatched fry sought shelter in the gravel. After over 30 days of waiting, the eager students began feeding the fish as they swam-up. Some aquariums have better success than others with anywhere from 12 to 200 fish surviving the duration of the project.
As part of the program, the hatchery agreed to come to the classroom and continue the learning process. Fish biologist Carey Edwards brought the hatchery to life with a power point presentation, emphasizing math’s everyday occurrence at the fish hatchery. This helped to strike home how important and frequently math is used in everyday life.
This program is very rewarding for all involved. The school, sportsman’s club and hatchery are looking forward to this fall, when the next group of students gets to learn about the life history of lake trout.