Something’s fishy at Warren Road Elementary School, and it has nothing to do with the lunch menu.
“These are the trout we got last week, and as you can see, they’re hatching,” third-grader Abutalib Turabi said.
The tiny fish, kept in a miniature trout hatchery in the school courtyard, are being observed by pupils as part of a lesson on the cycle of life.
“They’ll be keeping journals, measuring the fish as they start to grow and keeping track of things like temperature and how much ammonia is in the water,” said Leesa Lyles, a kindergarten teacher who used a grant from Lowe’s and support from the school’s PTA to assemble the project.
The rainbow trout eggs were shipped from Washington state last week and began to hatch within days, she said.
With an aerator, tanks and a refrigerant to keep the water temperature at 55 degrees, the hatchery has all the features needed to keep the colorful fry healthy until they are large enough to be released.
“Normally, they stay in a tank two to three months before they can be released,” Lyles said. “But with school getting out soon we may not be able to wait that long.”
A possible option for some of the trout, she said, is to give them to John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School educator Carl Hammond-Beyer, whose science students have been studying water quality in the Augusta Canal to see whether trout could survive there.
The next phase of the Davidson study is to build an enclosure that can be placed into the canal – with trout inside – to see how well they survive the warmer temperatures of the late-summer months.
In the meantime, pupils are enjoying the opportunity to monitor the progress of 5,000 to 5,500 tiny fish.
This fall, Lyles plans to start another project with the hatchery equipment.
“We might try catfish next time,” she said.