Aquatic Academics


Ricky Birdwell

Lil' Red, one of the fish being trained in Mrs. Rachael Garner's animal behavior class.

Ricky Birdwell

Throughout the rest of the term, Mrs. Rachael Garner’s first block animal behavior class will be training fish to do various tricks to help students learn more about operant conditioning.


“The goal is to help students learn operant conditioning techniques, so learning how to reward something to achieve a change in behavior,” Mrs. Garner said. “It gives students the visual that it takes a long period of time, it’s not something that happens right away.”


There are seven groups of students who each have an individual fish. For the first few days, the goal is to get the fish to get comfortable with and recognize the reward wand, which will feed the fish for doing tricks.


“It hasn’t been very smooth or consistent so far, I’m just waiting for the day the fish decides to eat,” sophomore Drew Snyder said. “I hope we will at least be able to get him to swim through his hoop.”


As Drew mentioned, the next step will be to get the fish to swim through a hoop/ring, which will eventually become a longer tube.


Towards the end of the training, the fish will be taught to do things like limbo under a bar, play basketball and even play soccer.


“I don’t think it’s going to work, I think the soccer and basketball training will fail miserably,” senior Ethan Clark said. “We can’t even get him to go up to the feeding wand.”


The experiments are set to last for five more weeks. At the end of those five weeks the fish will be returned to Mr. Charley Bittle’s son, who provided the fish for the experiment.