Testing the Waters

What better way is there to teach science than by getting students to do science? Trout in the Classroom is a hands-on multidisciplinary environmental education program that allows students to raise trout in their schools, from eggs to fingerlings, in the course of 8 months. Trout are sensitive indicator species studied by biologists and ecologists to determine the health of many of our drinking water streams, but their sensitivity to pollution and changes in water chemistry also make them difficult to raise in a tank. Therefore, TIC students and teachers need to carefully monitor water chemistry on a daily basis. Many teacher use kits which allow their students to test the pH, ammonia, nitrite, and  nitrate levels in the water. The results can be explained by the nitrogen cycle which takes place in a health ecosystem and how the entire riparian environment helps to shape the ecology of a stream. The collected data is great for creating charts and graphs as well! After months of practice testing tank water it is a great idea to bring along the test kits and have students test the waters where they will be releasing their trout. Students can make observations and do a visual investigation around the stream to explain the results that they found and perhaps discuss how humans can help keep our streams healthy for trout.

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