MEDFIELD — Superintendent Jeffrey Marsden and Principal Nathaniel Vaughn are pleased to announce the return of a popular science program at Blake Middle School this year.
Students in Kristin Buley, Juli Dalzell and Judy Silva’s seventh grade science classes took part in a trout release program recently, releasing approximately 200 of the fish after caring for them during the year.
Trout in the Classroom is a national program run through Trout Unlimited that teaches students about their local watersheds and their environment. Locally, Teaching with Trout is a program of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife that teaches about water quality and habitat health, introduces conservation concepts related to local aquatic resources and more.
As part of the program students raise brook trout from eggs during the winter, then release them into approved rivers and streams in the spring. It has run in Medfield since 2013, but was not held last year as COVID-19 cleaning and safety protocols would have been harmful to the fish.
Students were thrilled for the program to return this year.
“The goal is to teach students the importance of protecting cold water fisheries and learn about brook trout as an indicator species,” Silvia said. “The kids absolutely love it and it’s become a program we look forward to all year. They get so attached to the fish and really take ownership of the program.”
Students care for trout over several months by testing the water and treating and changing water as needed. The project covers lessons on water quality, life cycles of trout and mayflies, macroinvertebrates, trout habitats and trout anatomy.
While typically the entire trout supply is released at the conclusion of the program, this year students encouraged their teachers to let them keep several of the fish so they can continue to care for them for the remainder of the school year before releasing them in June.
Initial tanks, chillers and other supplies used in the program were provided through grants from the Medfield Coalition for Public Education and the Local Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Eggs were provided by Division of Fisheries and Wildlife hatchery in Palmer, with support from MassWildlife’s Coldwater Fishery Project Leader Adam Kautza.
Continuing supplies and replacement equipment were provided by the Medfield Public Schools.
Buley, Dalzell and Silva wish to thank the administration for supporting the program and encouraging students to take part in interactive, hands-on learning activities such as the trout release.
“The trout release is a rich and wonderful experience for all of our students, providing a hands-on and relevant learning opportunity,” Principal Vaughn said. “Students are able to take what they have learned in class and make direct connections with their environment. We see students motivated and invested in the project, and the thoughtful approach from the teachers has led to its success. These are the experiences we want for all of our learners, and I am thrilled that it has become a core aspect of our curricula.”