An Egg-citing Story!
BY CAREY EDWARDS, IRON RIVER NFH
hatched and reared until May. Credit: USFWS
For the past eleven years, raising trout and salmon in the classroom has become more common place in the Northwood’s of Wisconsin. This is thanks to the program started at the Superior Middle School and 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 than 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 can be quite costly, but with the help of two local sportsmen’s groups donating the funds for chiller and aquarium, the schools were up and running.
The last ingredient for the program is eggs and Iron River National Fish Hatchery agreed to provide lake trout eggs for the program with the stipulation that the fish would be humanely 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 four 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.
enumeration in the same manner that occurs at the hatchery.
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 further the learning process with a presentation and hands-on lab to all three schools.
Fish Biologist, Carey Edwards brought the hatchery to life with a power point presentation and students were able to simulate egg enumeration in the same manner that occurs at the hatchery. This involved displacing water with “eggs” (BB’s), recording data and calculating the number of eggs per milliliter. Students were also presented with additional math problems that mimic day-to-day calculations occurring at the fish hatchery. This helped to drive home how important and frequently math is used in everyday life.
This program is very rewarding for all involved. The school, sportsmen’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.