On a cool morning in May, Place-Based Education Project Manager Andrew Deaett joined the seventh grade class from Thetford Academy for the release of trout into the Ompompanoosuc River. Learn more about this real-world application of the knowledge and skills they learned through their partnership with Trout in the Classroom.
Seventh-grade science students at Thetford Academy demonstrated their classroom learning about freshwater ecology with an authentic and real-world question: where is the best location to release the trout they raised through Trout in the Classroom?
On May 25, the seventh-grade students were shuttled off campus to the base of the Union Village Dam where Avery Brook and the Ompompanoosuc Rivers converge. In partnership with Trout in the Classroom, they had been raising trout back at school, learning about freshwater quality and ecology, and observing the life cycle of trout. Science teacher Sam Hecklau began the expedition with a question, “Where is the best location to release our trout?” This question set students up for an authentic challenge to show their learning.
To determine the best location to release their trout, students conducted a series of tests at three different potential release locations. At each location, they tested a suite of water quality and habitat assessments. Using chemical test kits, they determined the levels of pH, nitrite, nitrate, carbonate, and general hardness. They observed the habitat to determine the rate of flow, riparian vegetation, and stream bottom composition. Their final assessment was a macroinvertebrate study as a general assessment of water quality.
They compiled all of their observations onto data sheets and were then tasked with making sense of the unfolding story in the data. Weighing the evidence, they were prompted to make claims regarding the best site to release their trout. They supported their claims with evidence they had collected and came to a consensus that Avery Brook would be the best place to release their trout.
Throughout the lesson students demonstrated their learning in a variety of ways. They used the data they collected as evidence to support their claims regarding the best location to release their trout. They engaged in reflection to consider the question, “Is this a healthy river?” There were numerous opportunities to engage in scientific dialogue with their peers while considering the meaning of the data they were collecting. They experienced the real challenges of navigating steep slopes, muddy trails, and flowing water to access their data collection sites and in order to be successful they had to work as a team.
Students answered the original question, “Where is the best location to release our trout” and learned so much more about themselves, learning in community, and the natural world around them.
Published June 20, 2023