PBC Student Holding a Trout in a cup

On Thursday, May 12, Pieter B. 5th-graders took a class trip to South Bethlehem Park. Their mission? To release the trout they have been raising for the last 6 months as part of their Trout in the Classroom Unit! 

Trout in the Classroom (TIC) is an educational conservation-oriented, environmental program created by Trout Unlimited. As part of the program, students raise trout from eggs to fry, monitor the tank water quality, engage in stream habitat and ecosystem study, discuss the importance of environmental conservation and finally, release their trout into a nearby fresh body of water. 

The trip also included some other exciting activities. The students took part in some macroinvertebrate collection and observation, as well as some fly casting and stream studying! Ron Dorn and Roy Lamberton from Trout Unlimited were able to stop by and offer some guidance and a hand to our students. 

But long before any of these fun activities could take place, the students had to start somewhere. Upon introduction to the project by PBC STEAM and Enrichment Teacher Mr. Sean Powers, students began to research. They needed to learn about the trout, their environment, and what they needed to provide to have a successful school of fish. In class, they discussed watersheds, fish populations, and how the environment naturally supports trout when they are raised in a stream.

TIC has been happening for the past 17 years at PBC. This year Mr. Powers decided to do it a little differently! 5th-graders set up an aquaponics system, a system in which the waste produced by fish or other aquatic animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water. This year arugula, basil, and tomatoes were grown from the water the trout were raised in while at PBC! 

“For many years students have loved the opportunity to raise trout in the classroom,” said PBC STEAM and Enrichment Teacher Mr. Powers. “This is the first year we have been able to support the program again due to the pandemic. The students were so excited to have the opportunity to participate, and really had a blast during our field trip.”

This program provides students with a hands-on project that directly relates to our local natural environment. Students get to experience a world that is right in their backyard, but that not many people have the opportunity to explore. The project presents students with a chance to think critically about the impacts we all have on our environment. It is also a fantastic opportunity for students to explore careers with animals, in conservation, science, and more! 

Big thank you to PBC STEAM and Enrichment Teacher Mr. Sean Powers, Elementary Project-Based Learning Coach Melinda White, PBC Special Education Teacher Tim King, Ron Dorn, and Roy Lamberton from Trout Unlimited, RCS HS Science Teacher Mr. Matt Miller, and all of the 5th-grade faculty and staff for helping put together and supporting this important project! 

Photos Provided by PBC Teacher Melissa Manning and Bethlehem Town Supervisor David VanLuven: