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Trout in the Classroom

Stoneleigh-Burnham School students in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program have completed their months-long “Trout in the Classroom” project.

Science Department Chair Beth Stinchfield’s students went to the Falls River last week for the final release of about 120 brook trout to this ecosystem.

“It was the perfect day to release them,” Stinchfield said. “The river temperature was almost the same as their tank temperature, so it was a quick adjustment to their new home.”

Stoneleigh-Burnham has participated in the Trout in the Classroom project for three years.

In January, 150 brook trout eggs were delivered from the state fish hatchery in Palmer, Mass. Students raised the trout in a large fish tank they set up just inside the entrance to the Jesser Science Building. Students were responsible for monitoring the water quality, and also studied stream habitat. About a week after their arrival, the eggs began hatching, and most were hatched within two days.

After hatching, their first weeks of life were spent in hiding in the gravel in the bottom of the tank, and they lived off their yolk sacs. After about two weeks, when the alevin trout used up their yolk supply, they came out searching for food. By late April, they were two-inch fry. When the river temperature warms to at least 50 degrees, the fry can be released.

The first release happened on Spearth Day on April 22. Over the past month, three biology classes and the IB ESS year 1 students released the trout fry to the Falls River, which is a priority habitat for trout because of its swiftly-moving and clean water.

Trout in the Classroom is promoted through the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Trout Unlimited Organization. Goals of the project include fostering an appreciation of our water resources and a conservation ethic, and promoting an understanding of our local ecosystem.

Stinchfield said the project has interdisciplinary applications in science, social studies, mathematics, language arts, fine arts, and physical education.

For more information, visit Trout Unlimited.