Above is a picture Erin Paquette, of Waterville Elementary School, sent me on March 3.
Robin Gannon at U-32 sent this intriguing message:
Maybe you know about this already. If not, I thought I would pass it along. I just got a form in the mail. It is for free water testing kits! It is an amazing kit for doing water testing at the site where the trout are released. It includes tests for:
They are put out by Green Mountain Water Environment Association. Their email is: lisa.goodell@gmwca/org.Her address is GNWEA, 89 Main Street, Suite 4, Montpelier, VT 05602
Thanks, Robin! That could be a great resource. Below is an image and a little information about the test kit.
Here are a couple of images of other equipment available from GMWEA.
The organization also offers free school tours. Check out that portion of their Web site below.
Some of you undoubtedly know that Ludlow Elementary School was one of the schools that experienced serious problems this year. Indeed, they lost all their trout, probably because of persistently high nitrite levels. After I sent an e-mail to area schools, five quickly offered to donate some of their fish to "restock" the LES tank. Of those five, I accepted offers from three that could be visited in a not too circuitous route to Ludlow.
The first stop was Castleton Village School.
CVS teacher Guy Merolle was in Washington, chaperoning a school field trip, but had made arrangements for us to collect 15 fry in his absence.
While in Guy's classroom, we inspected the cool hydroponic tank system he's set up that allows students to raise watercress (collected from the nearby Castleton River) by fertilizing them with water, pumped from a warm water fish tank, that circulates through the roots of the plants. That's a nice way to remove nitrogen from the tank!
On my "mission of mercy," I was assisted by two TIC fans. Maria Reade (left below) is a writer who, after learning about TIC, decided to prepare an article for publication in the July/August issue of Vermont Magazine. Lorena Schwarz (on the right) is a Poultney Elementary School parent who also happens to be a professional aquaculturist.
Next stop was Brian Crane's classroom at Rutland Town School. Brian's room was full of excitement as his middle schoolers introduced a class of 3rd graders to the TIC program.
Then it was on to Shrewsbury Mountain School.
Where Sabrina McDonough greeted us and introduced her "big boys and girls."
It was interesting to see how different in size the three groups of fry were. Brian's fish were the smallest; Sabrina's were the biggest; and Guy's were in the middle. Fortunately, I had two aerated coolers and a special additional steel mesh basket (inside one of the coolers), so we were able to keep the three cohorts separate on the drive to Ludlow.
About half an hour after leaving Shrewsbury, we arrived at Lisa Marks's 3rd grade class at LES.
Needless to say, both Lisa and her students were very excited--and very grateful--to be receiving these donated fish.
Before we left to head back to Castleton, we answered the students' questions and taught them some new, fancy vocabulary words:
One curriculum idea, one collection
The aforementioned Brian Crane, of Rutland Town School, sent me two interesting details related to his use of TIC in his middle school curriculum.
We are now into our Trout in the Classroom Unit. So far so good. I just got some dressed trout from Price Chopper for the external anatomy lesson for 2 bucks each.
Check out the handy links document (button below) if you have chance. It is the gateway to the entire unit. The unit is learner-centered and no direct instruction required. Activities can all theoretically be done at home (minus the inquiry). Check out the student guides especially!
How much to feed?
Last Thursday, Danielle Levine, of Schoolhouse Learning Center, sent this e-mail and question.
The manual's feeding guide is a little confusing to me. We have been putting a very small pinch in 3 times per day. Our fish are swimming up and have been released into the tank for quite some time now.
Are other people feeding 1/4 teaspoon throughout the day? That seems like a lot more than what we have been feeding ours, but the manual kind of seems to suggest that.
Also, during April break, the manual says the trout can go that long without eating. I am very hesitant to do that! The para-educator in my room has offered to come in once per day (I will be out of town, so can't). Is one feeding per day sufficient? Could he feed them once very other day?
Great question, Danielle! I responded with:
You're right, Danielle. I believe the quarter teaspoon is way too much. Every other day over the break would be fine.
Brook trout pattern as camouflage
I subscribe to several magazines about trout and fly fishing. One such magazine that I was reading this past week had a photo that was a great illustration of how the patterns on the back of a brook trout help to camouflage the fish and allow it to blend into the background of the bottom of the stream.
Depending on the age of your students, you might ask them questions like the following:
Back to you, Jason!
Last Monday's blog led off with some helpful observations and hypotheses from Jason Gragen, of NewBrook School.
This week Jason followed up with the following interesting thought about breeder basket placement.
Another thought that crossed my mind regarding this matter is the net breeders. We had two in our tank, as suggested. One was at the "halfway" mark of the tank (closest to the end where the air-stone is located), and the other was at the far end of the tank. The basket closest to the air-stone was exposed to some minor water movement. These fish appeared more healthy, fed first, and had more size. The basket at the far end of the tank was not exposed to very much water movement at all. These fish were paler, fed about a week later than the other basket, and were smaller.
Thank you, Jason! I think in the future we should pay attention to the location of the breeder baskets and the consequence on the fry.
Schedule your Release Day!
Over the next two weeks, many schools will be scheduling their Release Days AND booking volunteers to help with those days. If you wait too long, you may find it difficult it recruit the folks you need to help with some of the more interesting field-based activities.
In last week's blog, I mentioned that potential volunteers/partners might be found at one of the "natural resources conservation districts" that are spread across the state. Here's a map of their distribution.
These groups typically have staff with considerable expertise in environmental science, especially related to rivers and streams. The NRCDs also often own equipment that can be used at Release Days.
Click the button below to get more information on each of the state's NRCDs.
Finally, let me know when and where your Release Day will be held. I will put together a date, time, and place list so that members of the press, Trout Unlimited supporters, and representatives of donor organizations can join us on Release Day occasions and better appreciate the wonderful work you are all doing.
Joe Mark, Lead Facilitator, Vermont Trout in the Classroom
In June 2012, I retired after 40 years in higher education, having spent the last 32 years of my career as dean at Castleton. One of the first things I volunteered to do in retirement was to work with Jim Mirenda to help the Dorset School, where his kids and my Vermont grandkids attend, start a TIC program. Gradually that commitment grew into my current role, which is both demanding and highly rewarding.