Students at Gibbons School are getting an up-close opportunity at the life cycle of fish.
The school recently applied for the provincial Fish in Schools program which gives students the chance to raise Rainbow Trout from the egg stage to the fry stage.
The program comes with a grant that supplies 65 Rainbow Trout eggs collected from the Bow River as well as the proper tank to raise the fish.
"The goal of the program is to help with the conservation of fish in Alberta," said Landon Fink, a teacher and program coordinator at Gibbons School. "We thought it would be something that the kids would learn from and get excited about learning from because it's real instead of looking at pictures."
The school received the eggs on Thursday (Jan. 12) and got to work right away setting things up.
The tank isn't locked away in one classroom for just a select group of students to see. Instead, the tank was placed in the school's office so that every student in the school can have the opportunity to witness the fish grow.
Fink says that, for the first few weeks, classes involved in the project will be partaking in more observation before eventually taking a hands-on approach.
"It will be about two weeks of mostly the teacher in the tank and then after that, it will be small groups going," said Fink. "I'll say here is my group one, with two or three kids, 'can you guys go sample the pH and bring back the tests?'."
"It starts out with more observation and becomes more hands-on."
Once the fish reach the appropriate stage of development, students will release them into a local waterway.
"That will be our kids with a little bag of fish that they will get to slide into a river, which will be really exciting."
The program will help teach Grade 5 students about wetlands, life cycles, and the importance of ecosystems.
"They will be able to explain what kind of lifecycle any aquatic animal goes through, but we're focusing on fish," said Fink. "We'll also be focusing on what is a wetland and what kind of wetlands are around here."
The hope is high that having students take such a hands-on approach will encourage a learning environment.
"It's something that a lot of the families and kids can relate to because these are going to be Rainbow Trout that they might actually see in the summer," said Fink. "It's something cool to think about with sustainability and how humans can have a positive impact on the environment that they are in."
It's expected that the program will run for a few months, with students expected to release the fish sometime in May.