A high school in Atlanta is including raising trout as part of their curriculum for science classes to give students a hands-on learning experience. This not only allows them to see in real life the processes that they read about in textbooks, such as photosynthesis and the nitrogen cycle, it also offers students a deeper connection to nature which will hopefully lead to more conservation efforts.

Read on for how the students are involved:

“It’s put experience and learning on the map,” said Barker. “We have between 200 and 250 fish eggs that we feed, raise and get acclimated to cold water, all in a safe environment with oxygenated water. Doing that helps explain topics like nitrogen cycle and photosynthesis. In fact, we are now on the chapter about evolution, and they’ve seen what natural selection means. Some of the bigger fish go for the food, and in the last few weeks, we’ve had about a dozen of the smaller ones die off. Those are just a few of the biology lessons students are seeing in real life.”

“The students are heavily involved in the process,” said Barker. “As the trout get older, it’s get harder. The water needs to be changed more often and treated for the nitrates to get any ammonia out and nutrients in.”

Students participating in the program are excited about it, Byrd said. “They really enjoy that it’s hands-on. They learn about chemistry by testing the water and the balance of ammonia and sulfites. They learn about conservation and the cycle of life. And at Cristo Rey, a city school, I don’t think there are many kids who spend much time in the woods, so we’re teaching the next generation to respect the environment. And maybe a few will become fly fishers when they grow up.”

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