A 55-gallon fish tank sits to the side of Frank Todd’s 8th grade classroom at Moon Area Middle School, west of Pittsburgh. The water inside is so cold you can’t even see into the tank because of the water collecting on the outside.
Todd’s using the condensation to teach about how gases and liquids behave. It’s 52 degrees in the tank because that’s the temperature needed to sustain Brook trout. The tank is home to about 100 brook trout fingerlings—juvenile fish about the length of a finger.
It’s part of a program called Trout in the Classroom, overseen by Pennsylvania’s Fish and Boat Commission, and there are about 250 groups around the state participating this school year. The idea is to connect what happens in the classroom to how the native trout—the state fish—behave in the wild, and to get kids outdoors and connected with nature. In some programs, students are introduced to fishing. But for Todd’s class, Trout in the Classroom is more of a science lesson.