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story.lead_photo.caption Photo submitted An aquarium waits for trout eggs in a classroom at Cooper Elementary School. It's part of a program offered by Trout Unlimited.

It's not unusual for elementary classrooms to host a pet. Some teachers have guinea pigs, some may have turtles. But in one classroom at Cooper, students are learning science by observing trout in the classroom.

It's a program offered by Trout Unlimited, fourth-grade teacher Shannon Tweedy said. She learned about it from a member of the local Flytyers Club, Ron Blackwater, who was helping students on a fishing field trip.

Tweedy wanted the entire school to be involved in the program, so she spoke to Stefanie Pick who teaches a class called ESTEAM. ESTEAM stands for Economics, Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math and it's one of the "specials" at Cooper. Every class at Cooper rotates through the specials each week, so every student spends time in Pick's classroom.

Last week the aquarium was ready for the delivery of trout eggs. The eggs will hatch in a special basket placed in the aquarium and students will watch them grow.

There's a lot of testing necessary to ensure the trout stay healthy. Students will learn how to test for the correct temperature, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH levels, according to the website, There's some maintenance involved in keeping the water ready for trout.

Once the eggs are hatched and the unhatched eggs are cleaned out, the fish will swim out of the hatching basket and students will begin to feed them.

Meanwhile, the website offers lesson plans for a variety of subjects including science, social studies, language arts and math.

The fish will stay in the aquarium through most of the school year. They don't need special care on weekends, but during longer vacations, like Christmas break, they may need a visit. Tweedy said the teachers at Cooper will work together to make sure the fish get the attention they need.

"There's always someone here who will help," she said.

Eventually, the fish will be released, possibly in Beaver Lake. Tweedy said she's counting on the Flytyers to help her with the release next spring. By then every student at Cooper with have had hands-on experience raising trout.

General News on 10/09/2019

Print Headline: Trout aid learning at Cooper

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