INA – The curiosity meter was red-lining as a group of small students recently received a first-hand science lesson at Rend Lake College.
A pre-K class from Akin, along with teachers and parents, came to the college on Friday to learn about some facets of the Science Program at RLC. Life Science Associate Professor Steve Holman responded with a tour that spanned species from fish to fruit flies and focused on one special aspect college science that he deals with on a daily basis.
Holman, in his sixth year teaching full-time at the college, is heading a Southern Illinois Technology and Aquaculture project at RLC. The United States Department of Agriculture funds the project.
The SITA project is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 31, he said. The goal is to create an on-line Introduction to Aquaculture course, with dual-enrollment capacity at surrounding high schools, that will increase interest in the field and reach more students, according to Holman. Area high schools are also building systems and demonstration sites to promote aquaculture, he explained.
The class tour began inside the Indoor Recirculating Aquaculture System on campus. The students were fascinated by the fish inside aquariums that lined the facility and the golf-ball-size biological media that act as a filter and break down toxic nitrogen in the system.
Some additional topics taught by Holman were feeding fish, water quality, types of fish and how fish are able to live in an aquarium or outside of their normal environment.
He also let the children peer into a tank of poisonous dart frogs.
The students were never in harm’s way. Holman explained that the frogs, once in captivity, lose the ability to create poison because they make it from their diet of beetles and ants found in their natural habitat. Instead of beetles and ants, the group watched as he fed the frogs fruit flies from a beaker.
“Everybody seemed to like it,” Holman said. “The kids acted very excited and enthusiastic about seeing the fish and the frogs eat. I think the parents and teachers especially enjoyed the information.”
According to him, tours come to the RLC Science Department about once a semester. When asked if he is open to giving more tours in the future, Holman said, “Always.”
For more information about this release, one may contact Holman at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1722.