The trout eggs, roughly 125 of them, arrived Oct. 28 from the state's Edray Trout Hatchery. They had to be kept in a darkened box until they hatched, and students had to peer through a tiny hole to observe them.
Rick Johnson, New Haven's technology integration specialist, devised a solution that allowed anyone in the school to watch the eggs anytime they wanted.
"Rick rigged up infrared lighting and set up an infrared camera so we could see into the box," Blackshire said. "When the eggs hatched, we were able to put it on all the classes' 'smart boards' so the students could watch it live."
After the eggs hatched, Johnson rigged a "trout cam" that allows any teacher in the school to show live streaming video of the goings-on in the aquarium. Visitors to the school's website, www.edline.net/pages/New_Haven_Elementary_School, can click on a link at any time and watch the fish, too.
"This is Trout in the Classroom on steroids," said TU's Williams. "What they're doing at New Haven, especially with video technology, is really creative."
One of the program's main goals is to teach youngsters the value of good water quality. "Mr. Williams has a saying," said Richardson. "If you take care of the water, it takes care of you."
Well, most of the time, anyway. Over the holiday break, all but 19 of the trout in the tank died.
"We have no idea why," Blackshire said. "Our temperature was good, and our water quality was good. We've since learned that the same thing has happened at other schools with this batch of trout."
Despite the setback, school officials held a special "Trout Night" Jan. 6 to show the program off to parents.
"We found out that families at home were always checking out the webcam stream, so we invited the parents in so they could check it out for themselves," Cullen said. "We ended up having 88 parents show up. Shayla had them in the Trout Lab showing them how we take care of the trout, and I had them in my classroom showing off our monitoring technology."
The students don't just watch the fish on a video screen. Each classroom, from preschool through sixth grade, comes to the lab to make observations, help with tank and water-quality maintenance, and to write about the experience in their trout journals.
They also spend a fair amount of time reading -- not necessarily about trout, but certainly because of them.
"We've connected the Trout in the Classroom project to our Accelerated Reader program," Cullen explained. "The top 15 readers in each class will get to go on the field trip and be involved in releasing the trout."
Principal Bissell credits the project for bringing a degree of unity to everyone involved with the school.
"It's allowing all of us to work toward a common goal," she said. "Each class has a role in taking care of the fish, and all of the students are invested in making the program a success. It's project-based learning at its best, I think."
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.