Something Fishy at Centreville ES

By MaryAnn Settlemyre, STEAM/Outdoor Education Specialist
July 20, 2018

It isn't unusual to see a fish tank in a school, but you won’t find any guppies or goldfish in the four tanks at Centreville Elementary School. Students in grades 3-6 are participating in the Trout in the Classroom Program, raising Virginia brook trout from egg to fry. Throughout the school year, they keep the water chilled, the filters clean, and the fish well fed. At the same time, they study stream habitats and ecosystems to understand the importance of conservation. Having ample brook trout in local streams is a measure of good health for waterways.

When the trout are grown, usually in April or May, students travel to Wildcat Hollow Run in Fauquier County to release them. This year, more than 200 students participated in the release over two days in May. 

Once the students arrive, they participate in a variety of Chesapeake Bay watershed activities: they test the water quality and study microinvertebrates to determine if the stream is healthy. They record their observations in a field guide with the assistance of an art teacher. Of course, studying a stream requires students to get up close and personal with the waterway (a.k.a., muddy!).

For many of these students, it is their first time truly experiencing nature. Volunteers also teach them how to set up a campsite, build a fire, and be safe in the woods. The slideshow demonstrates that no camping trip is complete without roasted marshmallows!

The day is filled with outdoor learning, collaboration, communication, critical and creative thinking…the basic skills FCPS instills in students via Portrait of a Graduate.

The program is supported by a National Environmental Education Foundation grant, NASA, the National Wildlife Federation, Dominion Power, Eco Rise, Luck Stone Quarry, the FCPS Get2Green staff, a Target Fieldtrip grant, and Starbucks.