Our Maryland International School (MDIS) 3rd graders participated in the Trout in the Classroom program sponsored by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. In December 2019, Mr. De Francesco’s class received 69 trout eggs and were able to release 53 of them this spring. Due to COVID-19, students participated in a virtual release that they were able to watch via YouTube in April. See the links at the end of this post to view the videos yourself!
The Trout in the Classroom Program was brought to MDIS through Mr. De Francesco’s membership with Trout Unlimited. After learning about the program, he was able to apply and receive the Maryland DNR’s Aquatic Resources Grant (ARE). As a result, MDIS was able to acquire the start-up materials and eggs for this program
Throughout the year, the students transformed a 75-gallon aquarium into a temperature-regulated habitat, raised the trout from eggs to fingerlings, and then released them into a state-approved cold water stream or lake. Students became experts in knowing and testing the 55-58 degree water temperature required for these fish to thrive. Daily, they tested the water for pH, ammonia, and nitrate levels and cleaned the water using a gravity suction system.
“I have been a life-long angler and enjoy fly-fishing immensely. Being able to share my hobby along with the science behind it has been a joy!” said Mr. De Francesco. “In addition, the interest of the students and their families makes the work that it takes to get set up worth it! I loved hearing the conversations from our students while also having eager parents come to me wanting to see the fish.”
This program promotes interdisciplinary learning across several subject areas including biology, chemistry, mathematics, and environmental education while fostering a conservation ethic. Students learn about the life cycle of trout, their local environment, and the health of their water ecosystem. The students also learn to test, collect, and communicate data to ensure that the trout are thriving. The program will be a great addition to our school's annual Earth Day festival.
With the ARE Grant, we are excited to bring the Trout in the Classroom Program to MDIS annually. The faculty at MDIS is looking into ways to expand this program to grades 1-5 in the future.
If you would like to see more about our third grader’s experience check out some of the videos about their experience on YouTube: