The first batch of catfish fingerlings were delivered to Istrouma High School and placed into large fish culture tanks in the new Aquaponics Lab run by science teacher Andrew Holmes on Tuesday, August 21, 2018. More of the fish, raised at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, are to be delivered later. Aquaponics, which combines hydroponics and aquaculture, was started in EBR schools with the kickoff of a lab last year at nearby Brookstown Middle School, and was added at Istrouma through the aid of ExxonMobil electrical engineer Morris and WeProduceGrads.org, as an innovative, hands-on way to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning. The lab will produce catfish for eating, as well as lettuce, raised in separate tanks using catfish manure, which bacteria on the lettuce roots converts to nutrients. East Baton Rouge Parish Schools spent $130,000 this summer to rehabilitate Istrouma's old shop building and to pour the foundation for and lay utilities for a commercial greenhouse to be installed this fall. Proceeds from the sales of catfish and lettuce will fund scholarships for students who complete the aquaponics program, graduate from Istrouma and pursue STEM-related college work, Morris said.