Thursday, September 25, 2014

Second Grade Science

I loved second grade. I had a fantastic teacher (shout out to Scot Buxton) who made it a great year for me when he went above and beyond to foster my love of science, specifically roly poly's. He did that by making a special appointment for me to visit his buddy who was an entomology professor at KU and helping me learn so much more about the bugs. What? I didn't say I was cool in second grade, just that I loved that aspect of it.

I suspect Wyatt's feelings will be similar about his second grade year here since this is the year that the students study the life cycle of salmon. The hands-on portion began today with a field trip the Alaksa Fish and Game Fish Hatchery and I was 'lucky' enough to 'get' to ride the bus as a chaperone. The day started off with a bang, or sway, as the area felt a 6.2 magnitude earthquake. The kids were unbothered by it but the adults were a little concerned we'd be herding fifty kids out the emergency exits in case of aftershocks. As it turned out, we didn't feel any and the tour went on as planned. It was a really cool facility where they raise salmon, Arctic Char, Arctic Grayling and Rainbow Trout to stock area lakes and rivers.

two classes of second graders, lined up and listening

one of the rooms of tanks - each one of those had approximately
30,000 Rainbow Trout.

One of the trucks they use to haul fish to local waterways

reviewing the life cycle of the salmon from egg to spawning adult

the donor fish for this group's eggs

donor male - skinnier belly and hooked nose

donor female - fatter belly and a great example of how beat up
these fish are as by the time they spawn. Their noses are torn because they
try to swim straight upriver and just ram into anything in their way.

harvesting the eggs from the female, these two "lucky" kids were chosen to help.
They sliced her open and the eggs came flying out. The ADF&G guy pulled out the
remaining skeins of eggs and as he did, a girl in the crowd asked if he could also pull
out the fish's heart. She's ready for dissection day!

Collecting the milt from the male. Again, two "fortunate" helpers.

Learned that fertilization can't happen without water, so they added that and stirred.
And that's the recipe for baby salmon.

This is a super-zoom of the eggs about ten minutes after they were mixed
and already a few of them are visibly fertilized (the ones with the white spots toward the bottom).
In 45 minutes, the eggs go from being soft and gelatinous to having a harder, protective exterior.

Wyatt reports that all the eggs were safely transferred into the class tank and are well on their way to becoming fry. Hopefully some will actually make it and the kids will be able to return them to ADF&G during their spring field trip to release fry into the river. Between now and then, they'll be dissecting a salmon in class, too. I hope they do that on a day I'm in the classroom helping!

1 comment:

Mom said...

Very interesting. I too loved 2nd grade but not because of any great science lessons.