ucps logo

Archived Stories for Union County Public Schools

Search by Keyword

Piedmont Middle science class to raise hundreds of rainbow trout

Piedmont Middle School eighth-grade science teacher Victoria Tuck, center, works with an external filter canister, with the assistance of Dana Hershey, left, and Bill MacDonald, both volunteers with the Rocky River Chapter of Trout Unlimited. (Below) Tuck pours a solution called prime into the fish tank which quickly removes chlorine from the water. (Middle) A trout is pictured in its yolk sac. (Bottom) When the trout have grown into fingerlings, students from Tuck's class will release them into a mountain stream.

They won’t be able to pet them or walk them on a leash, but science students at Piedmont Middle School will have an entire school year to raise hundreds of rainbow trout from eggs to “fingerlings” that will be released in the spring.

Trout in the Classroom (TIC) is an environmental education program designed for teachers who want to incorporate more environmental education into their curriculum. The program was born about 20 years ago and is now in classrooms across the United States.

“The fish are going to be very integral in our eighth-grade curriculum because of the chemistry of the water and the microbiology or the bacteria that is living in the water,” said Piedmont Middle School eighth-grade science teacher Victoria Tuck.

Tuck’s class will receive about 300 eggs in September, provided by the Erwin National Fish Hatchery in Erwin, Tenn. This will hopefully result in at least 100 rainbow trout, which will live in a 55-gallon tank located in the classroom.

“Usually 20 to 40 percent live,” said Dana Hershey, a volunteer with Rocky River chapter of Trout Unlimited who set up the aquarium and various equipment necessary for the project.

Hershey and fellow volunteer Bill MacDonald brought the tank in mid August, along with a UV sterilizer, filter, pump, aeration device and a chiller. 

When the eggs arrive in September, they will be carefully placed in a softly netted cage positioned at the top of the tank. Students will be able to feed them finely grained fishmeal after the have used up their yolk sacs and are able to swim to the surface.

“Students will raise trout from eggs, monitor the tank’s water quality, engage in stream habitat study, learn to appreciate water resources, begin to foster a conservation ethic and grow to understand ecosystems,” Hershey said.

Tuck’s students will release the fingerlings in the spring, probably in May, but it takes at least 18 months for the hatched rainbow trout to grow to about nine inches in length.

“This is the first time I’ve tried a program like this,” said the five-year veteran Piedmont Middle science teacher. “My former principal, Dr. Radke, suggested the program and it sounded like an excellent opportunity. It goes very well with the eighth-grade curriculum, because it has chemistry, microbiology, hydrosphere and the environment.”

There are 17 schools throughout North Carolina that have Trout in the Classroom, and Piedmont Middle is the only one in UCPS.

“The key to the program is having an enthusiastic teacher," Hershey said. "I love teachers that are excited. How can you not try it out here when you have that kind of enthusiasm?”

“What a blessing that I inherited this,” said Piedmont Middle’s current principal Tracy Strickland. “As Ms. Tuck dreamed out loud about the trout in the classroom project, I’ve fallen in love with it, as well. It’s an excellent opportunity for students to see how life progresses and the different ways to use that in the classroom, and to incorporate the curriculum so that students have real life semi-tactile that they can incorporate into their learning. It is an incredible opportunity for them. We appreciate it a lot.”

Strickland said the program has the potential to impact not only Tuck’s students, but all Piedmont Middle students, as well.

When it’s time to set the trout free, some of Tuck’s students will travel to South Mountains State Park in Marion and release them into the streams.

“This project will hopefully teach children early to connect with the water that sustains the fish, the idea of clean water and what it takes to keep fish alive,” Hershey said. “When they go on a field trip and actually see the head waters of what they drink down here and how important it is to keep that clean, it’s invaluable.”

Written by: Deb Bledsoe - UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Aug 27, 2015 by Deb Bledsoe

Back to list of stories for Union County Public Schools