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Innovative Educator: Garden City teacher says life science lesson includes a life lesson

Seventh and eighth-grade science teacher Kelly McLeod believed this project would catch her kids' attention, and then she could release them to learn a little more on their own.

GARDEN CITY, Idaho — You could say it's rainbow trout season in a seventh and eighth-grade science class at Anser Charter School in Garden City.

Not for fishing for the trout, but for raising them.

"We're going to be testing the water quality of the water our fish are in because we want to make sure that they're as healthy as possible," eight grader Aidan Slattery said as he and seventh grader Chloe Torp took a sample of water from the special fish tank in their classroom.

"We know how they grow, but now we really get to see it close up," Torp said.

"Just how to take care of something and how to manage water quality," eighth-grader Zach Showalter said.

The students are taking part in the "Trout in the Classroom" project sponsored by Idaho Fish and Game and Trout Unlimited.

"The purpose of the project is to create conservation-minded citizens who have an understanding of our natural world at a deeper level," teacher Kelly McLeod said.

Seventh and eighth-grade science teacher Kelly McLeod believed this project would catch her kids' attention, and then she could release them to learn a little more on their own. She focused on laying the fish foundation.

"For connections to be meaningful they have to create them themselves," McLeod said. "So we just kind of set the table and they kind of make the meal out of it."

Not the Fish! The information.

The kids are raising the trout from egg to alevin to fry to fish.

"I think it's going to be really interesting to see how those little fry get to be a big fish," Aidan Slattery said.

The students first got their feet wet on the topic of ecosystems earlier in the school year.

"So we were in the (Boise) river learning about how water quality impacts what might be able to live there," McLeod said.

"I think with having hands-on experiments it really helps us learn better," Chloe Torp said.

"It's very hands-on, and that you get to be sort of the teacher and learn in your own way," Zach Showalter said.

The class will go back to the Boise River in May to release the trout.

"I think releasing them is going to be really, really fun," Aidan Slattery said.

McLeod hopes this life science lesson is part life lesson on how the kids are connected to the natural world.

"And then that gives them ownership to make decisions about the natural world either when they're old enough to vote or when they start deciding to volunteer in our community," McLeod said.

It seems the kids are making that connection.

"Looking a lot deeper and understanding things a lot closer, in the long run, is definitely a big part of this class and life," Aidan Slattery said.

McLeod appreciates her connection as a teacher to her students.

"It's the perfect combination of two of my favorite things, science and kids, so I got it made," McLeod said.

McLeod says many teachers across Idaho take part in the "Trout in the Classroom" project.

She received a grant from CapEd Credit Union to buy the fish tank and related equipment.

If you'd like to nominate a teacher as an Innovative Educator, you can email us at innovativeeducator@ktvb.com.

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