A group of high school science students in Clare, N.S. are taking their experiments beyond the classroom to help researchers gather data to investigate important environmental concerns facing small coastal communities.
The students are gathering information to help scientists with environmental concerns such as parasites, which infect commercial fish species, and blueberry fungus.
L’École Secondaire de Clare is not like other high schools. The school has its own fish hatchery to teach students about one of the area’s most important industries.
It began as a science project for students but has evolved into an award-winning environmental education program
“The entire community is rooted around that river. And really, the situation with the fish — the parasites and the environment of the river is just -- it's really not good lately,” said Grade 12 student Jonah Guimond.
Roland LeBlanc, director of the Nova Scotia Salmon Association, said students have released tens of thousands of trout and salmon into the Meteghan River.
“With the population — the problem we're having down here is acid rain. So by increasing the population and looking at the ecosystem, it can give us more information of what's there and how it's recovering,” said LeBlanc.
The students get hands-on experience in studying the life cycle of brook trout and Atlantic salmon. They also work on problems affecting the fish, such as parasites.
“I remember in my eighth-grade science class, we were examining bacteria and parasites and stuff and I had never really seen something that small before up so close. I was fascinated by how, like the detail of the parasite. I just I really enjoyed it and I bought myself a microscope and I tried it at home. It's just a really interesting class and I find that people aren't aware of the importance of the environment and how some things can affect the long-run,” said Grade 12 student Michael Saulnier.
Some of the work has been recognized internationally.
“Roland has published a paper in an international journal based on the work that we have done, based out of the high school, some of which the students helped. Now, the student work has not been published but it will be in the years to come,” said David Cone, SMU biologist.