Something fishy went on at Roberto Clemente Middle School last week. An odor wafted into the halls from Traci Fairbairn's science class Thursday, as sixth-graders with paint-covered hands stared down at the dead fish on their desks. The students at the Germantown school were making Japanese fish prints, called gyotaku. After using their fingers to paint the fish, they gently patted rice paper on top, creating detailed, colorful prints.
For the last three years, Roberto Clemente has been awarded a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, which helps pay for field trips and frees up funding in other areas, allowing Fairbairn's students to undertake the unique, but pricey, project. Antonella Malca, 11, giggled as she examined the fish.
"It's soft and squishy," she said.
But then she went on.
"It's a spot fish, with countershading," Antonella said, responding to Fairbairn's questions. "A bottom feeder, medium-sized fin."
PICTURE: Sixth-grader Delia Chen, 11 (right), and teacher Traci Fairbairn (left) look on as Antonella Malca,11 (not visible) holds up a spot fish. Students at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown created prints Thursday with paint and dead fish.