SALTSBURG -- On Oct. 17, Linsey Palazzi's ninth-grade biology class at Saltsburg High School traveled to Pittsburgh to experience science in action aboard the science vessel Riverquest.
While on this field trip, students studied water and soil samples to determine water quality and ecosystem health along Pittsburgh's three rivers and the surrounding watershed. As part of this trip, students had the opportunity to identify sources of pollution, collect and classify micro and macro invertebrates, test water chemistry and learn about causes and solutions to watershed pollution.
The fifth-graders at Saltsburg Elementary are new participants in the Trout in the Classroom (TIC) program.
The program introduces coldwater conservation in schools by having students raise brook trout, a native coldwater species, from eggs to fingerlings.
Students are learning about the life cycle of Pennsylvania's state fish and the delicate conditions needed for their survival.
This program is sponsored through the cooperative efforts between the Blackleggs Watershed Association, the PA Fish and Boat Commission, the PA Council of Trout Unlimited and the PA Department of Education.
At the beginning of the school year, a 55-gallon aquarium was set up in the school. Additional equipment was set up to simulate a coldwater habitat.
After weeks of anticipation, on Nov. 6, the eggs arrived. Dead eggs were removed from the batch and the live eggs were carefully placed in the tank.
Since then, care has been taken to monitor water temperatures, water flow, bacteria growth, and pH and nitrate levels.
According to David Gerstel, "presently, all the eggs have hatched and will soon be swimming up to find food."
In the spring, the fingerlings will be released in Blackleggs Creek.
Fire safety week
As part of National Fire Prevention Week, students at Saltsburg Elementary School learned important lessons on fire safety from volunteer firefighters from the Saltsburg Volunteer Fire Department.
Besides the exciting classroom visits by the firemen, the station sponsored several contests to increase fire prevention awareness. The fourth- and fifth-grade students participated in an essay contest.
Award recipients were fifth-grader Nicole Jorgenson and fourth-grade student Kirstin Smith. These students were presented with new bicycles, helmets and gift cards, all compliments of the fire department. Kindergarten through third-grade students were eligible to enter a coloring contest.
Winners of this division were Ava Pollock, Nicole Fairman, Jenna Fox, Evelyn Stewart, Abigail Pazak, Aliyah Eckenrode and Hunter Pratt. Today, all of the student winners will be chauffeured by a firetruck to the station, where they will be treated to a pizza luncheon.