PUBLISHED: 10:44 AM on Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Mobile Aquatic Classroom rolls into Southeast
JUNEAU - If you think no kid would want to be in a classroom on June 2, you haven't seen the Mobile Aquatic Classroom.

The Mobile Aquatic Classroom (MAC) is a bright blue 62-foot truck and trailer decorated with a 3-D fish mural. It is run by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Division of Sport Fish and based in Anchorage.

"People get really excited when they see a giant fish trailer. Everyone has to wave," said Stacie Hall, an educator with the Division of Sport Fish in Anchorage

For the sixth summer, the MAC is on a tour of communities throughout Alaska.

The MAC will be in Juneau for Aquatic Education Day on Monday, June 2. The event will be held on Sandy Beach from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is open to everyone. The MAC will also celebrate Kids Fishing Day in Prince of Wales on June 7 and in Ketchikan on June 14.

"Even in Alaska, there are a surprising number of kids who have never touched a real fish," Hall said.

Those kids will soon have the opportunity to get "up close and personal" with local aquatic life. The MAC is equipped with touch tanks, aquariums, microscopes, and a flat-screen TV.

Two educators, doubling as driver and technician, travel with the MAC, and may be joined by local staff in the communities they visit.

photo courtesy of ADF&G / Smith.
  A youngster watches aquatic larvae in the fishmobile.
Educators engage visitors in hands-on activities like stream sampling, knot tying, fly tying, fish identification and fish printing on t-shirts.

The MAC combines the power of the classroom with the experience of the field site, said Fishery Biologist Pattie Berkhahn, who runs the aquatic education program in Soldotna.

And like any good classroom, the MAC is flexible.

"It fits each community," Berkhahn said.

The MAC welcomes people of all ages. Programs geared towards adults have included canning and smoking classes.

All visitors can expect a comfortable environment and friendly people, Hall said.