Students' research hatches a project to benefit the bay


May 21, 2002|By Debra Taylor Young | Debra Taylor Young,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PINEY RUN Lake was the final destination this month for 12 tiger muskies raised by students from a research class at Westminster High School.

The students raised the fish in classroom tanks as part of a program called Aqua Culture. Westminster High - with South Carroll High - are models for the program, aimed at research to benefit the Chesapeake Bay.

In Westminster, the class is held at Carroll County Career and Technology Center next to the high school. Instructor Jim Gilford's classroom contains tanks of various sizes for the projects. Although the class is structured around aquaculture, the purpose is to teach students how to conduct research of any kind. Research in Gilford's aquaculture class could involve microbiology, water chemistry or engineering.

For the muskie project, the class was given 36 fish, each about an inch long, to raise at the beginning of the school year. Not all the fish survived. Some grew to an adequate length for release - at least 17 inches - large enough to survive among other muskies

The muskies were taken to Piney Run Park in coolers rigged with aerators to prevent the fish from becoming distressed. Once Gilford and his students established that the water temperature would not shock the fish, the coolers were dumped into the lake next to the boat docks.

The fish did not swim off right away. They stayed in the immediate area, slowly dispersing as their caretakers looked on. The students watched with interest as other, smaller fish swam close by.

Although none of the students is pursuing fields related to aquatic life, they shared an interest in learning how to properly conduct research.

"I like the research because it gives me lots of freedom," said Bruce Chappell, 17, an engineering student. "It's challenging, but we are all trusted to do what we have to do. It's kind of like a college environment and the topics are very interesting."

Jeremy Haines, 18, noted, "It lets us use our own creativity and do projects we're interested in."

The other students are Alyssa Fisher, 17; Ryan Zawistowski, 16; Sarah Shaw, 17; and Stacey Murray, 18.

In addition to the group project, students conducted individual research. Their projects varied: Alyssa studied the effects of different shampoos on hair; Sarah determined the effects of large amounts of carbon dioxide on plants; and Stacey and Ryan conducted fish breeding studies.

Something more elaborate with tiger muskies might be in the works. Gilford spoke to park manager Loren Lustig about the possibility of tagging future releases for further study. When anglers catch the fish, students would be able to determine things such as their age and health.

Gilford said his goal is to raise the entire number of tiger muskies necessary for the park's stocking program. That could mean raising as many as 200 fish at one time.

Jazz concert, clinic

Liberty High School will hold a jazz concert at 7 p.m. today in the school auditorium. The concert will feature the Air Force's premier jazz band, Airmen of Note. Liberty's two jazz ensembles also will perform.

At 4:30 p.m., the 21-member band from the Air Force will conduct a master class and clinic in the school's auditorium.

"The class is open to anyone wishing to attend. The more the merrier," said Joseph Fischer, Liberty High's music director.

The master class and concert are free and open to the public. Liberty High School is at 5855 Bartholow Road, Eldersburg.

Information: 410-751-3560.

Butterfly garden

Piney Run Park has a new butterfly garden near the tennis courts because of the hard work of Junior Girl Scouts Melissa Dorrance, 11; Melissa Hess, 10; and Jacie Foreman, 11, of Junior Girl Scout Troop 1750 of Frederick County.

The Scouts and leader Darlene Foreman undertook the project to qualify for the Bronze Award, a new award for Junior Scouts.

The girls spent about 10 hours of physical work completing the garden, which includes a bluebird house and a decorative beehive made from grapevine. The project was completed May 7 but the girls will work in the garden until next month.

Debra Taylor Young's southeast neighborhood column appears each Tuesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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