Lesson Plan: Salmonids in the Classroom - Intermediate

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A Teacher's Resource for Studying the Biology, Habitat and Stewardship of Pacific Salmon

Cover: Salmonids in the Classroom-Primary

This learning resource, which focuses on salmon, biology, and stewardship, encourages an ecological approach, integrating science with social studies. Knowledge of salmon biology and habitat are viewed as building blocks toward a stewardship ethic. Stewardship means "making informed decisions and taking appropriate actions to protect and conserve all plants and animals who share our planet." And stewardship is one of the building blocks of a sustainable community where the economy, the environment and society are all taken into consideration when decisions are made. In short, this resource is about teaching kids how to "take care in our own lives so that salmon thrive!" 
Whether small or large, class projects based on salmon have the potential to engage students in stewardship and sustainability. Studying a local creek, raising salmon in an incubator, or touring a watershed, are just a few of the projects that your class or school can undertake to make a difference for salmon and for us all!
Complete Salmonids in the Classroom Intermediate PDF (15714 kB)
Prescribed Learning Outcomes and Curriculum Organizers (PDF)
Complete Introduction (PDF)
Unit 1 Building Knowledge: The Salmon Life Cycle PDF
Unit 2 Water Cycle, Watershed and the Salmon PDF
Unit 3  Salmon Habitat On-site Studies PDF
Unit 4 The Salmon Spawner PDF
Unit 5 Salmon Eggs PDF
Unit 6 Salmon Alevins PDF
Unit 7 Salmon Fry PDF
Unit 8 Salmon Smolts PDF
Unit 9 Adult Salmon PDF
Unit 10 Review: The Salmon Life Cycle PDF
Appendices PDF

Unit 1. Building Knowledge: The Salmon Life Cycle

SIC unit 1 image

Material Available for Downloading
Overview
This unit gives students an opportunity to:
  • examine and discuss their pre-existing ideas about salmon;
  • discuss what a life cycle is;
  • review the stages of a salmon's life cycle.
Key Concept
Students learn basic vocabulary necessary for studying salmon, and identify what they know, wonder and want to learn about salmon.
Students learn basic vocabulary necessary for studying salmon, and identify what they know, wonder and want to learn about salmon.

Vocabulary
Salmon, life cycle, habitat, waste

Unit 2. Water Cycle, Watershed and the Salmon

SIC Unit 2 drawing

Material Available for Downloading
  • Complete lesson plan in PDF format
  • Background - Water stewardship
  • Suggested Activities
    - Introduction
    - The Water Cycle
    - A Watershed Model
    - A Watershed Mural or Display
    - Review
  • Handouts
    - Water Cycle Procedure
    - The Water Cycle and the Watershed
    - Building a Watershed Model
    - Watershed model experiment procedure
    - An Overview of the Salmon Life Cycle
  • Wrap-up
    -
    Water Cycle, Watershed and the Salmon
    - Salmon Incubator
Overview
Note that some activities begun here will continue throughout the life cycle units
This unit gives students an opportunity to:
  • discuss what the water cycle is;
  • observe water cycling in a glass container;
  • construct and discuss a model of a watershed;
  • begin to construct a watershed wall mural or display linked to the stages of the salmon's life cycle;
  • review the concepts they learned in the unit.
Key Concept
The water cycle, the watershed and ocean conditions form the broad context in which salmon ecology and human ecology take place. Each stage in the salmon's life cycle relies on parts of the aquatic ecosystem in which they live.

Vocabulary
Water cycle, hydrologic cycle, life cycle, habitat, watershed, transpiration, evaporation, ecology, atmosphere, lake, pond, stream, creek, river, deforestation, runoff, solar energy
In science, the term "watershed" refers to the division between two drainage basins; however, the term is often used to include the division and the drainage basin, as well as the plants and animals living within it. The latter definition is used in this unit.

Unit 3.  Salmon Habitat On-site Studies

SIC Unit 2 drawing

Material Available for Downloading
  • Complete lesson plan in PDF format
  • Suggested Activities
    - Advance Preparation
    - Rules for Salmon Habitat Study
    - Nature Journalling
    - Salmon Habitat Study Field Trip
    - Debrief in Class
  • Handouts
    - Rules for Salmon Habitat Study
    - A Healthy Salmon Habitat
    - Habitat Survey and Data Sheet
    - Advanced Habitat Survey and Data Sheet
  • Wrap-up - Salmon Habitat On-site Studies
Overview
This unit gives students an opportunity to:
  • select a site for on-site stream studies;
  • review rules for on-site stream studies;
  • research items that make a good salmon habitat;
  • conduct on-site stream studies;
  • review and discuss their on-site observations.
Key Concept
A stream or lake may be a salmon's home. Streams and lakes have features that make them more or less attractive to salmon.

Vocabulary
Dissolved oxygen, pH, back-eddy, riffle, velocity, turbidity, bedrock, boulder, cobble, gravel
Suggested Approach: From the suggested activities, choose those that are appropriate for your class.

Unit 4. The Salmon Spawner

Salmon spawner

Material Available for Downloading
Overview
This unit gives students an opportunity to:
  • discuss why salmon swim upstream in the fall;
  • simulate and discuss the importance of salmon returning upstream;
  • test the significance of fish carcasses to plant growth;
  • observe genetic diversity in the class and discuss its importance;
  • test the effect of pollution on the scent of water samples;
  • review the concepts the students learned in the unit.
Key Concept
Spawners travel upriver to their home stream or lakeshore, where they lay eggs and fertilize them to continue the life cycle. Salmon die after spawning but their bodies support the growth of the next generation.

Vocabulary
Genetic variation, genetic diversity, spawn, spawning ground, pollutant, redd, fertilize, carcass

Unit 5. Salmon Eggs

Salmon eggs

Material Available for Downloading
Overview
Note that some activities begun here will continue throughout the life cycle units.
This unit gives students an opportunity to:
  • discuss the ways in which animals reproduce;
  • hatch an organism from an egg;
  • study the role of temperature in egg development;
  • create a chart of the salmon's life cycle;
  • investigate the concept of parts per million (ppm);
  • investigate the impact of pollution on salmon habitat and identify ways to reduce pollution;
  • review the concepts they learned in the unit.
Key Concept
The egg contains a developing salmon. It is highly sensitive to disturbances in water quality, variations in temperature and pollution in its habitat.

Vocabulary
parts per million (ppm), concentration, molecule, oxygen, dissolved, impurities, pollutant, silt, Accumulated Thermal Unit (ATU), embryo, alevin.

Unit 6. Salmon Alevins

Salmon alevins

Material Available for Downloading
Overview
Note that some activities begun here will continue throughout the life cycle units.
This unit gives students an opportunity to:
  • discuss what a newborn needs to survive;
  • test the effect of temperature on the rate of growth and respiration in yeast;
  • test the effect of water temperature on respiration in fish;
  • discuss how people affect the temperature of stream water and ways of minimizing human impacts;
  • construct a model of a waste landfill;
  • review the concepts they learned in the unit.
Key Concept
Salmon alevins receive food from their yolk sac but remain highly sensitive to changes in their environment, especially changes in water quality and temperature.

Vocabulary
embryo, temperature, energy, cold-blooded, warm-blooded, micro-organism, yeast, respiration, sensitive, landfill, compost, leachate, yolk sac

Unit 7. Salmon Fry

Salmon fry

Material Available for Downloading
Overview
This unit gives students an opportunity to:
  • discuss ways of distinguishing one animal from another;
  • investigate the classification of animals as fish;
  • read and discuss information on salmon fry;
  • test ways in which air gives objects buoyancy in water;
  • examine microscopic life in a sample of pond water;
  • examine microscopic life in a sample of runoff water;
  • review the concepts they learned in the unit.
Key Concept
Fry swim and search in their stream or lake habitat for aquatic organisms they can eat for food. Fry exhibit characteristics that classify them as fish.

Vocabulary
swim bladder, insect, nymph, larva (plural: larvae), plankton, Parr marks, predator, imprinting, classification, species, aquatic organism, cold-blooded, chum, chinook, sockeye, pink, coho, rainbow trout, steelhead trout, cutthroat trout, buoyant, buoyancy

Unit 8. Salmon Smolts

Salmon smolt

Material Available for Downloading
Overview
This unit gives students an opportunity to:
  • discuss how salt water and fresh water mixes in an estuary;
  • observe the reaction of animals to salt water;
  • simulate the effect of salt water on cells;
  • develop a simulation game representing salmon predators;
  • research local estuaries lost to development;
  • review the concepts they learned in the unit.
Key Concept
Smolts migrate to the estuary and adapt to salt water conditions, but face increasing hazards in the estuary.

Vocabulary
Smolt, adapt, excrete, membranes, cells, estuary, eelgrass, nutrient, predator

Unit 9. Adult Salmon

Salmon

Material Available for Downloading
  • Complete lesson plan in PDF format
  • Background - Adult Salmon 
  • Suggested Activities
    - Introduction
    -
    Species of Pacific Salmon
    - Adult Salmon
    - Navigating Without Landmarks
    - A Thermal Map
    - Fishing
    - Review and Build on What You Know
  • Handouts
    - Pacific Salmonids
    - Adult Salmon 
    - Species of Pacific Salmonids
    - Salmon Navigation
    - A Classroom Thermal Map 
    - Salmon Harvesting in B.C
    - A Code of Responsible Fishing for Canada
  • Wrap-up - Water Cycle, Watershed and the Salmon
Overview
This unit gives students an opportunity to:
  • discuss whether they like to eat salmon;
  • watch or conduct a salmon dissection;
  • identify species of salmon by categorizing their features;
  • use various senses to navigate without a map;
  • construct a three-dimensional map of the classroom;
  • research various methods of fish harvesting and responsible fishing;
  • review the concepts they learned in the unit.
Key Concept
Adult salmon migrate through the ocean and then return to their home rivers. People fish for salmon in different ways and for different reasons (recreational, commercial, native fisheries).

Vocabulary
Salmonid, dichotomous key, species, isotherm, slime, scales, gills, gill rakers, milt, liver, bladder, kidney, lateral line, migration, mackerel, orca, plankton, herring, navigation, water pressure, salinity, magnetic direction, thermal, temperature, guidelines, principles, by-catch, zooplankton

Unit 10. Review: The Salmon Life Cycle

SIC Unit 10 drawing

Material Available for Downloading
Overview
This unit gives students an opportunity to:
  • discuss what a life cycle is;
  • review the stages of a salmon's life cycle and habitat;
  • examine the material in their model landfill;
  • calculate rates of salmon survival;
  • prepare a plan for reducing human impact on salmon.
Key Concept
The stages in a salmon's life form a cycle, but each stage has specific needs and is vulnerable to disruption and mortality.

Vocabulary
Natural environment, built environment

Appendices

Material Available for Downloading