Elementary school teacher incorporates live trout in every day curriculum

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PARK CITY -- Something is a little fishy at Parley’s Park Elementary and the students love it.

The Park City School became just the eighth in the state to participate in the program, Trout in the Classroom, which is run by the Utah Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

This past January DWR donated 200 rainbow trout eggs to John Howard’s fourth grade classroom. The fish tank has become the most popular feature of the room.

"Everyone just runs in and checks the fish every morning, first priority," said student JT O’Reilly.

The students have been following their life cycle every day, as Howard incorporates them into all sorts of curriculum.

"When they started out they were about the size of a small bead," said student Kate Rooney.

"I never knew when fish hatch so many would be so deformed and odd looking and wouldn't survive," O’Reilly said.

Howard has also used the fish to teach students about one of Utah’s most important and scarce resources, fresh water.

As Utah grows population wise, water issues are going to become more and more on the forefront. I think that's going to become a big deal and I think these kids knowing about it now will hopefully establish some conservation for the future," Howard said.

Howard said what’s most gratifying is seeing the students faces light up every time he ties the fish into the daily curriculum. The students have grown so attached they’ve drawn pictures of their favorite ones and have even given them names.

"Taco, waffles, lots of food related names," said student Ellie Donovan. "There's not really anyway to tell them apart but it's fun anyways."

This May all the fourth graders will go on a field trip to Deer Valley Ponds where the trout will be released into the wild. It’s another key, hands on, learning experiment.

"They're in a small contained space and they are going into a big lake and there will be predators there," Donovan said.