Welcome new TIC teachers!
As I mentioned in the first-of-the year posts, we'll have about nine new schools joining the program this year and, among continuing schools, an additional 16 first-time TIC teachers.
I believe that all teachers at schools that have previously done TIC will have the basic equipment they need--tank, chiller, filter, etc. You'll probably still need to order replacement supplies, but I'll address that topic in the next blog.
For brand new teachers at first-time TIC schools, however, you'll probably need to order the basic start-up equipment configuration. I say probably, because, depending on who's financially supporting your equipment purchase, that shopping spree may be taken care of by a friendly TIC helper. Some schools have found their own funds to start the program; other schools may get a check from a local philanthropic source--perhaps their nearby Trout Unlimited chapter; and still other schools will find that their local TU chapter (or an affiliated support organization) plans to order equipment for them.
If you haven't already been in contact with your local Trout Unlimited TIC liaison, here's how you can reach out to them.
For the sake of this blog, I'm going to assume that the school/teacher has to order their own equipment. If someone else is going to do the ordering, it's even easier.
What do you need?
The key elements of the TIC start-up package are the following:
You'll need a very sturdy counter, table, or other surface on which you'll put your tank. Once full of water, your tank will weigh more than 500 pounds, so whatever you put it on has got to be able to support three or four adults.
When schools have difficulty finding a suitable piece of "furniture" for their tank, I sometimes advise them to build an inexpensive support surface by:
If at all possible, locate your tank away from bright natural and artificial light and not right on top of a heating vent. (Worst case, you can put dark paper over the window to screen out light and/or turn off lights immediately overhead or remove tubes from nearby fluorescent fixtures.)
The 1/4 HP chiller that we use functions best if it can be plugged into a surge protector that is plugged into dedicated circuit.
Some schools plug their chillers into a receptacle and/or circuit that also provides power to other appliances. Because the chiller itself draws 4.9 amps of power, such arrangements can result in the chiller shutting off when you need it to be cooling your tank.
Don't plug your tank appliances into what's called a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). These are normally great but have one major downside risk: if your school loses power, the appliances plugged into a GFCI receptacle won't automatically go back on when power is restored.
Here's what a GFCI receptacle looks like.
Good luck! And don't hesitate to reach out to your local TU chapter liaison or to me.
Joe Mark is Lead Facilitator of Vermont's Trout in the Classroom program.
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 a parent-friend 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.