These two photos, taken through aquarium glass, are of two fish species native to the acidic streams and lakes of South Jersey. The blackbanded sunfish (left) generally only grows to a length of 3", while the bluespotted sunfish (right) is, comparatively, a giant, growing to almost 4".
These are two of the aquatic life species that NLT has brought to the 3rd graders at Millville's Silver Run School for study. The students keep representatives of each species in their classroom for about a week, examine species behavior as they live in a 20 gallon tank, research them on the internet, post the research results on the blackboard.
So far this year, the students have studied a number of saltwater species: ribbed mussels (that soon filtered the tank's water so that it was crystal clear), sea anemones, mummichogs, shrimp, three-spine sticklebacks, and striped killifish. Now the students are moving on to freshwater species: a couple dozen Asiatic clams, blackbanded and bluespotted sunfish, pickeral, eastern mudminnows, eels, various species of caddisfly larvaw in their custom-built homes, banded killifish, tadpoles, leeches (a big hit), carnivorous bladderworts, and tubifex worms.
In addition to the short in-class presentations adn aquatic life studies, the students have also visited Raybins Beach at NLT's Glades Wildlife Refuge to study the beach at low tide, and they will spend a day at the Peek Preserve and an afternoon at Millville's Union Lake. This program is not only teaching the students at aquatic life in New Jersey, but also their teachers and NLT staff, since nothing stimulates the educational experience more than constantly having to find the right answers to questions from 3rd graders!