Saturday, December 8, 2018

Tricky Transitions

  Navigating through tricky transitions and  changes can be  difficult.We all know this to be true. But, our class has discovered through the process of raising Trout in the Classroom that the transitions and changes can also be very exciting and rewarding! It is one of the things that keeps me engaged in the process of raising Brook Trout in a classroom aquarium year after year for the past ten years.
             
     Each year offers a truly new set of obstacles to overcome.  We knew coming into this year that the obstacles would be more difficult as we are in the process of consolidating our elementary schools requiring us to move our trout tank over our Christmas break. It was important to allow the students the opportunity to see each of  the wonderful transitions the trout endure to survive during the moving process. 
      I developed a plan and began to gather equipment to set up a temporary tank in my basement to move the trout into until my classroom was available. That sounds very simple, but in reality presented many challenges. Please do not ask my daughter how many times she found me mopping the basement floor  problem solving the equipment issues.  Below is a picture of the second tank that now occupies a portion of my basement.
     This year after receiving our box of eggs leaking with the majority of the eggs already dead,  we were worried  that we may not have any trout make the full transition to be released in the spring. We have been pleasantly surprised so far. We lost a significant number during the first week as they acclimated to the new environment. However, things seemed to have leveled off.  We currently have 30 active alevin just beginning to test the skill of swimming.  This thrills the students as the egg and initial alevin stage are not very exciting. In fact, it is a challenge to convince the students that the trout are alive during these stages because there is not much action to see. 
We are eagerly awaiting the swim-up phase and the first feeding so the students can become more involved in caring for the trout. It is so much fun to watch their excitement when they first get to feed the trout!

 Once the trout make the transition to swim-up fry and eat successfully,  we will move them using insulated  bait buckets with aerators to my basement tank. I have been testing the water for both tanks to ensure a smooth acclimation. It is important to keep both tanks at the same temperature and within similar water quality parameters for ph, ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites.

Over break we will tear down the tank at Lack Tuscarora and move it to my new classroom at Juniata Elementary School.  Getting the tank set up over break will provide enough time for the beneficial bacteria to build again allowing the tank to cycle.

Unsure of how the fragile trout would survive during the moving process, we needed  a backup plan to ensure that we have some trout to release in the spring. The Trout in the Classroom Program agreed to send another shipment of fry that will arrive at the end of January.   This is great news allowing us to share the learning experience as our classroom gains new students on January 3!

This tricky transition will be a mirror image of our classroom as we consolidate trout and schools hopefully thriving through the obstacles and transitions.  Learning to go with the flow and problem solve is the key to growing for myself,  the students, and the Brook Trout. Thanks goodness we all can learn, grow and change together with time and effort.


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Scrambled Eggs!

     Today as the UPS man delivered our box of Trout eggs, he said I have bad news...the box is wet. Well, hopefully there is a little water left inside was my reply...thankfully there was.  I imagined our eggs being jostled about as they traveled from the hatchery in Belefonte. Apparently this scrambling was a little too much for some of them to tolerate because there were 126 white eggs that did not survive the journey to our tank. I placed 180 healthy eggs in baskets to float on the top of our tank to keep a close eye on their transition from egg to alevin to swim up fry. The students were so excited!
Tomorrow we will place the nonliving eggs on our plants as fertilizer. We made a sign to share our news with the whole school.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Trout in School...Still Cool!





     Ten years ago, I remember the feeling of butterflies in the pit of my stomach as we awaited the arrival of our very first shipment of Brook Trout eggs. I knew very little about Trout and even less about how difficult it is to raise them in an aquarium.  We were the first school in Mifflin and Juniata County to participate in the Trout in the Classroom program so my father-in-law and Penns Creek Trout Unlimited walked hand in hand with us through the journey that continues today...raising Brook Trout through Trout in the Classroom.
 
     The students' excitement for the program helped to ease my nerves and soon became the fuel to ignite a passion I never expected. This passion keeps me trying to defy the odds each year. It seems fitting that this year as we celebrate 10 years of Trout in the Classroom, we will be closing our little school and consolidating requiring us to move over the Christmas break into Juniata Elementary School.
 
     Just another opportunity to once again rise to the challenge and conquer the odds of survival as we attempt to keep enough trout alive to release on May 11, 2018! Hoping not to let these beautiful faces down! May the odds be ever in our favor!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Trout in Two Classrooms?

This year marks our tenth year with the Trout in the Classroom Program! In typical Lack Tuscarora style, we hope to make this year’s experience extra special as we will share our trout with the other first grade students at Juanita Elementary School when we consolidate in January.

Let that soak in for a moment. We will receive our eggs as usual the first week of November. Battle our normal obstacles of ich, fungus, and equipment failures. Then tear the tank down, move the water, fish, and equipment. Then hope the trout survive this transition to be released on May 11, 2019 by the first grade students at our new school-Juniata Elementary.

One thing I love about this program is that each year is a unique experience with its own set of obstacles. This year will be sure to provide many problem solving opportunities as we will develop a plan to move our tank to our new classroom. Stay tuned to keep abreast of our adventures!

My students are eager to help make this our best year ever!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Room to Grow!

   I have been busy treating our trout tank for ick...with the help of several students and faculty. We are hopeful to have it under control...We notice it as we were getting ready to move the smaller trout out of the basket we put them in to protect them from the larger trout...

Below is a picture of one of the trout with the "white spots" that are typical for the disease.


 So thankful to have discovered tank dividers...thanks to a friend our trout now have more room to grow and swim!  Check it out!



Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sharing Smiles!


     We have been learning about making predictions during our reading groups so I couldn't resist having some fun with the students. Our trout books arrived this week. I was very eager to share it with the students, but decided to build the anticipation a bit.  I wrapped the box with wrapping paper and a bow and placed it in the room waiting for the students to notice. It sat most of the day without a comment. Then finally a student noticed. I told them we would be writing predictions during kid writing  about what it could be.
     A glimpse into the world of first grade...being March 16 with a leprechaun on the loose at Lack Tuscarora Elementary school...three students predicted it could be a leprechaun. Other predictions included a toy, goodies, markers, reading books, Foxy, or a  kitten. There were three whom accurately predicted it was our trout books.

   I just love seeing their faces when they see the book for the first time. It makes me smile. I wanted to share the smiles with you! Enjoy!




Love the smiles!