Saturday, January 14, 2012

Trout in the Classroom: UPDATED

Confession: I initially wrote this post before Christmas Break sometime, and I thought it was quite good.  It was also very long.  One of the perks to living in mountainous regions is that we have trout in our waters.  There's this super cool nationwide program called Trout in the Classroom that my high school science teaching counterpart did last year and is doing again.  Yes, my school is so small that there is only one science teacher for the entire middle school and one science teacher for the entire high school.  Right before the break, they got the eggs.  We're keeping them in the generally empty aquarium in the lobby of the wschool's office.  I'm not sure how much we'll really get to do with the trout, since I'm certainly not a trout expert.  So far, the kids have pre-tested, we've been through the egg stages, and we've done some research and a few activities as a class introducing the trout to our life.  It's great because my room is decorated in a beach theme, so even though trout are freshwater fish, they fit in pretty well.  It's also great because many of my country boys love to fish and some of them actually have a good working knowledge of fish trivia.  These lessons are designed on a seventh grade curriculum, but they're not in a typical lesson plan format.  They all line up with state standards, but I haven't gotten organized enough to show that yet.

For those of you that haven't read Trout in the Classroom, it's an overview of this fantastic nationwide program.  I'm lucky enough to teach in areas where trout are abundant, and my kids LOVE fishing, especially my boys.  Many of them are very knowledgeable about fish, and one actually makes a hobby of "trouting" as he calls it.  I'm gonna try one last time to get you my overview, and as we go, I'll make notations of how it works in my room.

 Trout in the Classroom 7th Grade

Trout Time:
Once a week (approximately) we will spend our class studying the trout.

Trout Tank Update:
Each morning two students come in on a rotation basis to check pH, ammonia, temperature,and look for dead eggs or fish. They record all data in a notebook and update the information on a bulletin board that was decorated for Trout in the Classroom. They also post the survival numbers on a sign called Trout Count. This bulletin board is where the students get their information for their journal updates.
*In our case, the high school students do most of the monitoring, but my kids are still curious about the progress the trout are making in their life cycle.

Each student keeps a trout journal where we diagram or illustrate, keep data and write journal entries.

Lesson One – Tank Set – Up
1. Journal Set Up
2. Draw tank set up and label parts.
3. Draw an egg.
a. Place an egg in a Petri dish at each student group. Allow the students to observe
and sketch the egg. Do not leave the egg out long because the temperature will
4. Discuss how the tank mimic’s a trout’s natural environment.
a. Aerator – high oxygen content
b. Chiller – cold mountain water
c. Filter – clean water
d. Pump – moving water
e. Gravel – camouflage for eggs and fish
5. Discuss Tank Tests
a. pH – Allow students to do a pH test of the water at their groups.
b. Ammonia – Teacher models how to do the ammonia test.
c. Looking for Dead Eggs or Fish – Discuss fungus and why the eggs should be
removed before the fungus spreads.
d. Explain student checks – Train two students to check the pH, Ammonia,
Temperature, and look for dead eggs or fish. The students track this in a
notebook for tank tests and trout mortality. These tests must be done each day.
Students are in charge of training each other. One student rotates off while
another rotates on to learn each day.
6. Update Trout Data in Journal
7. Journal Entry: How does our tank mimic a trout’s natural environment?

Set up some type of notebook as the student’s trout journal. This is where the student will journal,collect data and illustrate.
Weekly Update
pH: Range:
Trout Count:
This is whereyou sketch,diagram, or graph

Lesson Two: Trout Life Cycle
1. Draw Life Cycle in journal – See page 5.
2. Compare Trout life cycle to the human life cycle
a. Eggs = Fetus
b. Alevin = Infant
c. Fry = Toddler
d. Fingerling = Child/Teen
e. Adult = Teen/Adult
3. Life Cycle Game – See page 6
4. Discuss survival rate of trout.
a. If 2000 eggs are deposited in the wild, then roughly 200 eggs will make it to adult
b. Discuss why the eggs will not live. (predators, pathogens, not fertilized, etc.)
5. Update Trout Data in Journal
6. Journal Entry: How will our survival rate in the tank compare to the survival rate in the
Write birth announcements and or obituaries.

Trout Life Cycle

Life Cycle Game
Life Cycle Game
a. Each student chooses a number 1-6.
1. It just rained and you died when the pesticides that the farmer sprayed on his crops
near your home washed into your stream.
2. Congratulations! You hatched!
3. Congratulations! You hatched!
4. The weather has been extremely warm recently, heating the water to 65 degrees.
That is too warm for trout eggs.
5. You weren’t even fertilized.
6. Congratulations! You hatched!
b. Hatched eggs remain standing.
c. Those students choose a number 1-6
1. Congratulations! You have completely absorbed your yolk sac!
2. Your yolk sac burst when something hit it.
3. Heavy rain washed a bunch of sediment into the stream and covered you up.
4. A dragonfly larva ate you.
5. Congratulations! You have completely absorbed your yolk sac!
6. You were born with a genetic mutation that causes you to die.
d. Fry/Fingerlings remain standing.
e. Those students choose a number 1-6
Fry, Fingerling:
1. A larger fish gobbled you up.
2. An algal bloom used up all the oxygen in your stream.
3. Acid rain caused the pH of the stream to drop below 6.5.
4. You ended up as Hunter Garrett’s dinner.
5. Bad news! There aren’t enough resources to support the whole population of trout.
The carrying capacity has decreased, and you died of starvation.
6. Congratulations! You have reached maturity and are able to reproduce. Go forth
and multiply!

Lesson Three: Trout Anatomy
1. Start off drawing the body of a trout on the board and let the kids finish it as a class.
It usually comes out looking something like this…
2. Misconceptions or things they forget/don’t know to include…
Dorsal fin-used for protection and to
keep vertical balance in water
Operculum-there is only ONE, and it isn’t
the same as the gills. Gills are internal,
operculum is external. Sharks do have
multiple gill flaps, but regular fish do not.
Nare-used for smelling
(not breathing)
Scales-point to the back of the fish. If they pointed
forward, they would cause friction/drag as the fish
swam. Scales are also the reason why fish show
colors and countershading (light on bottom, dark on
Pelvic fins (2) and anal fin
(1)-used for protection and to
keep vertical balance in
Lateral Line-the 6th sense of a fish.
Allows the fish to sense vibrations in the
water. This is why it’s soooo hard to
catch a fish with your hand or a net. It’s
also the reason why fish can keep a tight
formation while they school.

3. Anatomy Song (sung to the tune of Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes)
Dorsal, Pectoral, Pelvic, Caudal, Pelvic, Caudal
Dorsal, Pectoral, Pelvic, Caudal, Pelvic, Caudal
There’s the lateral line
Operculum and gills
Dorsal, Pectoral, Pelvic, Caudal, Pelvic, Caudal
***And don’t forget the anal fin!***
Dorsal (hands together held at back of head)
Pectoral (flap like a chicken)
Pelvic (hands waving on either hip)
Caudal (point to toes/legs)
Lateral line (hands run down either side of body)
Operculum (hands on cheeks and flap back and forth)
Gills (hands on cheeks with fingers wiggling)
Anal Fin (turn around, bend over, and wiggle hands on bottom)
4. Based on the trout anatomy, what is its feeding niche?
• Bottom feeder? top feeder? right-in-front-of-it feeder?
• Ambush predator or predator that chases its food?
Bottom feeders have mouths that point downward. (ex: catfish)
Top feeders have mouths that point up. This does not mean they feed only on
the surface of the water…just that they feed on what is above them. (ex:
Middle feeders (right-in-front-of-it feeder) have mouths
that point forward. (ex: bass)
Ambush predators usually have a large, flat caudal fin.
Predators that chase their food usually have more of a
forked caudal fin. (ex: tuna, sharks)
Trout feeding niche: They tend to be ambush predators that feed on insects
and other fish that are right in front of them. This does not mean they cannot
feed off of insect on the surface of the water, because they certainly do. It only
means that they have to angle their body towards the surface so that they won’t
miss their prey.
5. Internal Anatomy
Major differences from human anatomy:
• 1 intestinal tube versus small/large intestines
• Gills versus lungs
• 2 chambered heart versus 4 chambered heart
• Brain is most developed for senses rather than thinking/decision making
• Presence of swim bladder
6. Update Trout Data in journal
7. Journal Entry: Write about the changes that you have observed in our fish so far.

Lesson Four: Trout Genetics
1. Review Genetic Terms
a. Heterozygous/Homozygous
b. Allele
c. Trait
d. Gene
e. Phenotype/Genotype
2. Genetic Activity – See page 11.
3. Draw a Punnett Square for the back shape trait in Journals.
4. Update Trout Data in Journal
5. Journal Entry: How does your class percentages for body shape compare to what youwould find in the wild (Punnett Square)?

Trout Genetics
Student work in partners
• Copy of chromosomes –
One male copy of dominant and one male copy of recessive (blue paper).
One female copy of dominant and one female copy of recessive (pink paper).
• Envelope to hold the chromosomes
• Copies of trout bodies and traits (printed on tan and gray paper)
• Pink and blue construction paper
• Glue Sticks
• Scissors
• Copies of traits, offspring traits, and classroom total tables
1. Imagine two of your classroom’s trout surviving and maturing over the next three years.
These two parents will spawn and produce a number of offspring.
2. Discuss that each parent is heterozygous for each trait.
3. Review the eight traits that our spawning trout carry. Also go over the sex
4. Each student gets an envelope with the chromosomes.
5. Students arrange both the male and the female chromosomes face down in pairs
according to trait (and length). The letter symbol for each trait should not be visible.
Keep the male and female chromosomes separate at this step.
6. Each student must randomly pick one chromosome from each of the nine groups.
7. Students fill out the offspring’s genotypes in the table. Students refer to the trout traits
table to find the resulting phenotype the fry has for each genotype.
8. Students then make their fish based on the offspring’s traits. To identify the offspring’s
sex, glue the fish to either pink or blue construction paper.
9. Students name their fish and place it in the “school” of other fish. (Bulletin Board)

Name ___________________________
Student Worksheet

Chromosome Master (Dominant)

Chromosome Master (Recessive)

Sex Chromosome Master (Female)

Sex Chromosome Master (Male)

Rounded Back

Smooth Back

Parr Marks

Parent Trout

Lesson Five: Trout Web
1. Draw an example of a trout food web.
snake eagle Bear

salamanders crayfish mosquitoes
fish snail worms (decomposer)
2. Bear, Trout, Mosquito – See page 23
3. Update Trout Data in Journal
4. Journal Entry: “When you try to change a single thing, you find it hitched to everything
else in the universe.” – John Muir
What does this quote mean in relation to our trout?

Bear, Trout, Mosquito Game
This active game is a fun way to reinforce the food-chain relationships of trout to their
predators and prey. It is best played outdoors or in a large, open space. It is a combination of
tag and the well-known game, Rock, Paper, Scissors. Instead of using only hands to create the
symbols, the players use their entire bodies.
Place boundary lines (such as jump ropes) on the field about 60 feet apart. Place a third
midline in the center of the two boundary lines.
Divide the group in half. Have the two groups face each other with the one group on each side
of the midline.
Decide on three distinct motions (and sounds) to represent a bear, trout and mosquito. For
example: bears roar and flash their claws, trout put their arms over their head and squiggle,
and mosquitoes buzz and flap their arms. Discuss the dietary relationships of these predators
and prey (bear eat trout, trout eat mosquitoes, and mosquitoes eat bear).
Each group huddles and decides on an animal to “be”. The entire group must be the same
animal. The groups then line up along the center line again, this time with their backs towards
the other team. On the count of three, the groups all yell “Bear, Trout, Mosquito!” then turn
around and make the motion for their chosen animal. The predatory group must then chase
the prey group. The prey must turn around and run to their habitat (boundary line behind
them). If anyone is tagged before reaching his/her habitat, the participant must join the team.

Lesson Six: Trout Data
1. Update Trout Data in Journal
2. Create data table of trout survival over the last six weeks, then use that data to graph
Graph trout survival for the last six weeks
a. Use a line graph
b. Make sure to include title, labels, scale
Survival Rate of (Students') Trout
Trout Survival

3. Let’s say we allowed Ms. Green to fish in our fish tank. Add weeks seven and eight to
your graph with the human population and the new estimated trout population.
4. Journal Entry: Describe the changes you have seen in the fish from day one. Make sureto include the following:
a. Survival Rate – compared to what you thought it would be in the beginning.
b. Where are our trout in their life cycle now?
c. Would we still have this many fish if they were in the wild?
Graph Trout Data using Box and Whisker Plots

Lesson Seven: Hatchery Trip
1. Field Trip to a Fish Hatchery (we go to Walhalla Fish Hatchery).
2. Possible Activities
a. Hatchery Tour
b. Trout Dissection
c. Owl Pellet Dissection
d. Macroinvertebrate Investigation
e. Fishing
3. Update Trout Data in Journal
4. Journal Entry: Describe what you saw and learned at the fish hatchery.

Lesson Eight: Release
1. Possible release field trip or video of the release.
2. Update Trout Data in Journal
3. Journal Entry: Pretend you are one of our trout; write an essay describing your life from
egg at the hatchery to being released by DNR.
Research topic on trout and create a commercial
about trout and the economy.
How do trout affect South Carolina economic
Discuss effects of “New Deal” (Walhalla Fish
Hatchery was built)
Discuss economics of trout being stocked in SC.

Daily Trout Inspection
Week of:

Daily Trout Inspection
Week of:

Trout Mortality
Dead Eggs
Total # Live

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Trout Guide
Trout Unlimited: Trout in the Classroom
Idaho Trout in the Classroom
Bare Books

** As a side note, the kids literally ask AT LEAST once a day if they can check on the trout.  It's pretty cool that they're so interested.  

Lesson 1: Intro.  I did a modified version of this while I was out for a PD day and then did follow-up the at the beginning of the next class.  Captured their interest and was great.

Lesson 2: Trout Life Cycle-  My kids tried SO HARD to make everything perfect, and found it quite enjoyable.  We used the Promethean board to outline the life cycle together, but all the drawings and the paper representations were theirs for interpreting and creating the details.

Lesson 3: Trout Anatomy--- The singing wasn't a big hit, but I also teach in an alternative school.  Some of the kids attempted to create a little rap, and that was pretty successful, but all in all, the lesson worked and they enhanced what they already know about fish.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for stopping by :) I'm your newest follower!
    Looking forward to reading your A Day In My Shoes post :)

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