Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Coho Salmon Eggs in the Hall at Lake and Park School

Observing the salmon tank in anticipation of the eggs arrival.

One of the many benefits of teaching children for multiple years is the frequent opportunity to revisit a topic, or apply existing knowledge to a new situation.  We ask children to use the knowledge they have all the time.  Whenever we begin a new topic of study it is common practice to ask children what they already know about that topic.  Learning is about making connections and making an idea your own.  When we can revisit shared knowledge as a community of learners it continues to build our community and makes it stronger.  This happened in the halls of Lake and Park just last week.

It was our first week back after the New Year and we were all anticipating the arrival of the Coho salmon eggs for the big fish tank in the hallway.  The tank had been placed in the hallway and filled with water shortly after the Thanksgiving break.  During that month the water needed to be cooled and stabilized at about 48 F, and the proper PH, ammonia, nitrate and nitrate levels established for optimum fish growing conditions.  During this time our study of conifers in December provided another way to look at the salmon habitat in the Northwest with a deeper understanding.
Learning about the harvested salmon eggs at the hatchery.
The day before we set out to the Issaquah Salmon hatchery to pick up our salmon eggs we asked the question, “what do all living things need to live on earth and how will we provide those for the salmon eggs?”  The students’ hands shot up to provide part of the answer.  As some students remembered the requirements all habitats must provide to sustain life, they also remembered work they did researching and writing their biome projects last spring.   Students who joined this group in September were engaged in learning from their peers. 

Students look for the five essentials in the natural habitat.
Learning from the experts at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.
The five essentials are: 1. Air, 2.water, 3.food, 4.shelter, and 5. space.   Many children have observed the tank both before and after the eggs were placed in it.  As we look carefully, observe and wait, we can think of our role and responsibility in helping these eggs grow into the fry we will release in a stream this spring.  For the next couple of months students will check on the temperature and other aspects of water quality in the tank, and when the time comes we will begin to feed the fry.  We all anticipate our trip to release the young salmon into a stream.  We plan to work on a habitat restoration project.  We will record and graph our data about the tank.  We will observe and draw and paint what we see happening in the tank.  We will keep journals, writing down our thoughts, questions and responses to the changes in the fish tank.  The salmon project has brought a special energy to our hallway and will continue to do so for several months to come.  Please stop by and take a look.