Science teachers Jim Jensen and Chris Vitt have impacted the lives of approximately 1,450 students through the biology seining trip and this year’s crop of HHS sophomores had the opportunity to experience the trip first-hand on Sept. 8-9.
Vitt has been taking students seining for the past 25 years, Jensen for the past 13. At the end of the school year both plan to retire, so the future of the trip is possibly in jeopardy, but both teachers feel it is beneficial for students to experience.
“They get to see what is under the water, gain information on food webs of a creek, and do population studies that estimate population numbers,” said Jensen. “Seining helps show how good the quality of the water is and specifically in the pond we conduct a population studies year to year.”
The seining trip starts with students being divided into groups of three or four. Upon entering the water, two students hold the seining net, one on each side. They slowly walk through the water with the net slightly below the surface and lift up the net at an angle. While one group member checks the sein net for fish, another member is holding a five gallon bucket used to store the captured fish. At the end, students bring the buckets ashore and begin recording the data by counting the different types of fish caught. This experience fits well into the science units of ecology and population studies.
“The purpose of the trip is to collect real data on the biodiversity that exists between two local streams; it’s a way to measure the health of the habitat,” said Vitt. “The other purpose is to provide students with a hands-on experience of estimating a fish population in a pond. We specifically conduct a mark to recapture study.”
Students participating in the seining excursion are taken to several ponds and creeks around Brown County. They catch several different kinds of freshwater organisms, such as perch, bullheads, chubs, channel catfish, blue gill, sunfish, crappie and crawdads.
“For many of the students, it is their first experience catching organisms with a sein or a kick net,” said Vitt. “It is important for students to engage in activities that actual scientists do, and engage in practical application of what they learn in the classroom.”
Many students find it helpful to have this hands-on experience that gets them out of classroom and into a different type of learning environment.
“I find it helpful to have a hands-on experience because I learn easier and I learn way more than I ever thought possible,” said sophomore Emma Williams, who went on the seining trip this year.
Senior Garrett Binns still remembers his own seining experience from his sophomore year.
“The seining trip was a very memorable experience. It was very educational applying the skills we learned in the classroom to a real world situation,” said Binns.
Throughout the years, several unforgettable memories have been made between students and the teachers on their seining trip. Every now and then it helps for teachers and students to get out of the classroom and into a new learning environment. When you get into a new environment, learning becomes different than just sitting in a classroom and for many students it sticks with them longer. As new science teachers bring new ideas to the classroom next year hopefully they will continue the tradition of getting students into a new learning environment and continue the seining trip.