The "Salmon in the Classroom" project is sponsored by the Michigan Department of natural resources and made possible at Fulton Schools through a grant from the Gratiot County Community Foundation. Mr. Winsor has been a participating teacher for ten (10) years, and Fulton Schools has been a participating district for six (6) years. Over the course of the project, it has evolved into a cross-curricular activity that integrates science, social studies, math and language arts. Fulton has been lucky enough to work with a number of biologists and engineers at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) through this project as well. Students see real-world examples of science careers and get first-hand experiences into those careers through "Salmon in the Classroom."
Students start the project by watching the following flipped lesson. This flipped lesson introduces the facets of "Salmon in the Classroom" and the reasons that Salmon have become an important introduced species into the Great Lakes ecosystem.
At the end of the teacher directed lessons, students watch the PBS documentary "Salmon: Running the Gauntlet." The documentary discusses the demise of Salmon in the Pacific Northwest, especially Sockeye Salmon. Though we are not raising Sockeyes, much of the sockeye life cycle is similar, and students are able to draw knowledge from the video presentation. Below is a link to the worksheet that students complete while watching "Salmon: Running the Gauntlet."
Natural resources are materials or substances such as minerals, forests, water, and fertile land that occur in nature and can be used for economic gain. Our salmon are a type of biological natural resource. We use them for food as do many other organisms. They also are a source os nutrients to the environment when they complete their life cycle and die.
It's no secret that the Lake Michigan Salmon population is having issues. In the media, there have been a lot of articles discussing the decline of the Salmon Population. So what is happening and what could happen with our school salmon project? The video below discusses the events playing out it Lake Michigan and what the future holds for our project.
Below you will find a live stream from the Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery in Mattawan, MI. Our students pick up their eggs in November of each school year from the hatchery, and also experience a tour of the hatchery facilities and incubation process for various fish species. At the bottom of this website, you can observe pictures of our students at the hatchery.
Water Quality Testing
Water quality testing occurs throughout the school year. Students are assigned specific days to complete testing. Each student will perform all of the tests at least one time throughout the year. Our water quality tests include; Temperature, Dissolved Oxygen, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, and pH. Each test is performed on a weekly basis and data is recorded in the data table below. Analysis of this data can help us identify the causes to fish illness or disease.
Below is a link to the water quality lesson for our project.
Below is a video of students performing a water quality test.
Though we strive to keep every egg and fish alive until we release them, this is never the case. We lose eggs and fish due to a variety of reasons. Early in development fish eggs may die due to bacterial or fungal infections. Later fish may die due to water quality issues, disease, malnutrition, or any combination of these things. Below is the data table of our fish and egg mortality.
Fish Dissection Lab
To become more familiar with our salmon and their anatomy students perform a dissection of a white perch. Though this fish is not identical to the salmon it does give us a basic anatomical structure that is similar. Students spend time identifying major anatomical parts of the fish along with the functions of those parts.
Nearing the end of the school year students have a lesson on macroinvertebrate identification. They learn to use a simple dichotomous key to correctly identify the different species of insect larva, crustaceans, arthropods, or other invertebrates found in Fish Creek. They use their skills from this lesson and apply them to the organisms that they collect in lab station number three on release day. This information will help us build a population graph of the species present in the tributary.
In an effort to maximize productivity in each group, we allow students to request partners. They are responsible for identifying three (3) individuals that they work well with and three (3) individuals that they do not work well with. Students are informed that we will not be able to accommodate all students having the individuals they have chosen in their group. If we are unable to put a person that they work well with in their group, then we will be sure to not put someone in their group that they do not work well with. It's a "one or the other" situation. Below is the document that we use for this process.
In an effort to help students identify the locations that each lab station takes place on the release day, Mr. Winsor created a video showing lab station locations. The video can be found below.
Lab Station 1: Salmon Release
Over the course of the day, your will be completing a number of labs. Lab station number 1 will be your salmon release. Each group is responsible for acclimating and releasing our salmon. Depending on the school year we may have a large number of salmon to release. You may not move on to lab station number 2 until all of the salmon are released. Follow the instructions in the lab manual under lab station number 1 to properly acclimate your fish. It is imperative that you measure every fish that you release and record that information in your data sheet.
Lab Station 2: Water Quality Analysis
Students are responsible for performing a water quality analysis of the water in Fish Creek. The purpose of this is to identify any potential problems with the creek water that would hinder our salmon from surviving there. You can find procedures for the lab at the lab station. Refer to your lab manual to thoroughly complete the lab. You must perform the tests and record the data in your data sheet. You will perform the following tests while at lab station number 2; Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Dissolved Oxygen, Temperature, and pH.
Lab Station 3: Macroinvertebrate Study
Students Create a pie chart of the population of macroinvertebrates found in the creek. The pie chart will be added to the final lab report. Each group is responsible for collecting a new sample of macros and counting the number of each species found. We quantify the numbers of macros into a data table with every group's data.
Lab Station 4: Producer Identification
Students spend the lab station time identifying the various producers found around the stream. These producers form the base of the food chain and supply food to macroinvertebrates which allow for that population to increase. A large number of macroinvertebrates will supply food to our salmon while they live in the creek.
Lab Station 5: Fish Population Study
Department of Environmental Quality Biologists and Engineers perform an electro-shock on the steam in order to collect a variety of fish from the body of water. Students must correctly identify the species of fish, the number of them collected, and also measure each fish. Students use this information to create a pie graph of the stream population of fish and also a box-and-whisker plot of the fish lengths for each species.
Lab Station 6: Stream Velocity Study
Students collect data on the stream velocity in various locations across the width of the river. Students then take samples of sediments at those locations in order to identify a correlation between stream velocity and sediment sorting. The data is used in a line graph to visually represent the correlation.
Lab Station 7: Habitat Analysis
Students spend time identifying the various habitat requirements of salmon and then matching those needs to the actual conditions present in Fish Creek. This lab station and a combination of others will be used by students to make a final determination as the likelihood of our salmon surviving and returning to continue their life cycle.
Lab Station 8: Fishing (on your free time)
Students are given time during the day to fish. Any fish that are caught are identified and measured. This data is added to the collected information from lab station number five and used in the creation of the population graph and box-and-whisker plot.
At the end of our day, we spend time cleaning up the steam-side. The goal is to remove any pollution that could end up in the river system.
Next Generation Science
Common Core State Standards - Literacy
Common Core State Standards - Math
Unit LS1.A (Structure and Function)
Fulton Schools Data Collection Spreadsheet Spring Data
Fulton Schools Data Collection Spreadsheet Fall Macroinvertebrate Data
Below is a video of Fulton Students loading up our fish and working at salmon release day in 2014.
Below is a video of our salmon being released into Fish Creek in 2016
On June 17, 2014, Fulton Schools was featured on Michigan Out-of-Doors Television airing on PBS. Jordan Browne followed our students and staff with a television camera for the morning as we performed our various tasks at each lab station. The episode is #1425 and we can be found at the 20:16 point of the show.
On June 13, 2016, Mr. Jeremy Winsor presented the various aspects of the "Salmon Project" to the school board. The presentation discusses the entire project - start to finish - and outlines the interdisciplinary approach the Fulton staff has developed. The presentation can be found here.
On November 6, 2014 Mr. Jeremy Winsor and Mrs. Cari Smith presented to teachers at Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery in Mattawan, MI. The purpose of the presentation was to introduce new teachers into the "Salmon in the Classroom" program and give some insights into the cross-curricular project that Fulton Schools has developed. The documents that were shared with new teachers can be found here.
On January 14, 2015 Mr. Jeremy Winsor and Mr. Jeremy Hyler presented at the MLK Day professional development hosted by the Chippewa River Writing Project and CMU. The documents that were shared with participants can be found here.
On November 16, 2016 Mr. Jeremy Winsor presented to teachers at Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery in Mattawan, MI. The purpose of the presentation was to introduce new teachers into the "Salmon in the Classroom" program and give some insights into the cross-curricular project that Fulton Schools has developed. The documents that were shared with new teachers can be found here.
We are trying to raise a significant amount of funds to purchase a research grade system to continue our studies. This purchase will allow us to bridge this program into our High School science courses and open up new research opportunities.