After caring for their trout for more than seven months in their schools, Trout in the Classroom students from NYC say goodbye to their trout as they release them into their watershed streams.
Shortly after they watch their little (and usually named) trout swim away, they often wonder how they will survive in the wild without someone there to give them fish pellets every day.
"So what will they eat? “students often ask. This question provides a perfect transition into learning all about the macroinvertenrate species in streams. Using a kick-net or by scooping out a few small leaf packs (with permits from the local DEC), we are often able to show students some of the prey that their trout will feed on including stoneflies, caddisflies, mayflies and more.
The River Key is a great tool which allows students to not only learn to identify these important species, it also lets them practice using a dichotomous key. Teachers often ask students to carefully illustrate the species in their science journals and label key features such as the insect body parts, gills and mouth. The activity can also be done using preserved or mounted macroinvertebrates. Having a tied-fly and adult stage of each species provides even more opportunity to expand this unique and hands-on lesson.