Aquatic Life

Lesson 1

 Aquatic Life – Lesson 1

Lesson Plan: Water Pollution and Filtration

Curriculum Links: Science – Grades 4-7

Duration: 1 session

Location: Classroom

Purpose:

Students will begin to understand the role of plants and soil in filtering the water moving through the Lakelse Lake watershed. Through active investigation, students will explore and discover how materials, such as pollutants, can alter a healthy ecosystem. Students will see how materials can move through soil and enter a groundwater aquifer (a layer of permeable rock, sand, or gravel through which ground water flows, containing enough water to supply wells and springs) and will explore the dual role of soil and plants in this process.

Prerequisites and Skill Development:

A basic understanding of plants and their role in our world would be beneficial, but not necessary. Understanding of the water cycle would also be beneficial. Students will learn that whatever goes into our ground has the potential for reappearing in our water systems – including that which we drink or play/bathe in – and this can also have detrimental effect on living organisms which depend upon the local water. This activity is designed as a whole group observation and discussion exercise, however, by adding more materials smaller groups could also explore what happens when various pollutants are drained through the soil.

Materials:

* Six potted plants in pots with drainage holes (These plants need to be moderately dry, as if they had not been watered for a couple days: Plants with saturated soil will not absorb water, and very dry plants will absorb it all – we want some of our water to drain through the holes in the bottom of the pot)
* Six clear cups, which will be used to collect the water and/or ‘pollutants’ which drain out as we pour the substances through the plant/soil.
* Tap water
* Unsweetened powdered drink mix, preferably grape or cherry for colour
* Vegetable oil
* Vinegar
* Two different household cleaners (one should be liquid and the other powder – Comet/Ajax or Dish/Laundry detergent)
* Graph for students to record data (see below)

Activity Description:

Several days before the experiment/demonstration, set up the potted plants and slowly pour clean water through the pot to check the percolation rate. Loosen or tighten the soil so that the percolation rate is fast enough to prevent long waiting periods, but slow enough not to carry very much soil through the pot – we want some ‘pollutants/water’ to travel through the pot, but not so quickly that it washes out a bunch of soil or so slow that nothing comes out!

It would be useful to explain that soils and plant can remove some of the foreign material that end up dissolved in our lakes and rivers as the water moves down through soil, but that most materials will adhere to the soil which may then be broken down and used as food by the plants.

Prepare a graph/table for students to record the findings from the demonstration. This should include six rows (1 for each plant) and six columns (1 for each ‘pollutant’).

For the demonstration, hold a potted plant over the top of one clear cup and slowly pour clean water through one of the pots. With students, watch it percolate through the bottom of the pot into the cup. The water should look as clean as what was poured, although there may be some soil that washes through too (likely because the water was poured too quickly or the soil was too loose in the pot). If there is soil in the cup/water ask the students what they think this might mean for water quality in a lake or river. Then, choose a second plant and repeat the procedure but instead of straight water, mix a little powdered drink mix into the water before pouring it through the plant. See if the water percolating through retains the colour. For the third plant try adding some vinegar to the water and have students observe the effects and repeat this process using vegetable oil/water (they won’t mix completely). Does the vegetable oil percolate through or is caught up by the plant roots? Then use the final two plants to try the two different household cleaners and water mixtures. Is the cleanser retained in the soil? Does the soap percolate through the soil? Then, to finish it all off, using the “contaminated” plants, pour some clean water at the same rate through each one (simulating a rain shower). Is more of the “pollutant” rinsed away from the soil by the clean water?

Possible questions for students to explore:

In what ways can plants and soil benefit our drinking water quality? We saw plants and soil remove some types of impurities from water. How might the plants remove larger quantities? Can plants and soil remove any type of impurity from water? How might these pollutants affect other organisms in the soil-plant system? Additionally, what is the role of rainwater moving through contaminated soil?

Suggested Complementary Activities:

Students could continue watering these plants with the ‘contaminated water’ to see what happens over a longer period of time, perhaps a week or two, and record the observations. What might the long term effects be if contaminants continue to be introduced into the water system?

Visit the lake and have students look at lake water samples and note landscape alterations that may be increasing the sediment in the lake. See ‘Scavenger Hunt’ activity for further suggestions.

Lesson 2

Aquatic Life – Lesson 2

Lesson Plan: Roger the Salmon – A Comic Strip

Curriculum Links: Science/Socials

Duration: 1 lesson

Location: Classroom

Purpose:

This activity is meant to draw attention toward the connections between human activity and its impact on returning fish stocks at Lakelse Lake. Numerous reports are currently showing declining returns of spawning salmon and a possible cause of this is lakeshore development. Using a cartoon format, students will be able to visually detail the possible effects of human activity on that of the returning salmon population in the Lakelse watershed.

Prerequisites and Skill Development:

An understanding of the habits and life cycle of a salmon is beneficial. Students will extend this and develop an understanding of the possible connection between water quality, human impacts, and the survival of the species. In addition, this connection will be displayed in a creative, written and illustrated format. The students should be made aware of some of the major concerns of the Watershed Society and community members, such as water quality, elodea growth, heavy nitrogen and phosphorus counts, shoreline erosion etcetera which can all be found on the above cited website. See www.lakelsewatershedsociety.com/custom4_1.html and http://www.davidsuzuki.org/Publications/an_upstream_battle.asp for further background details.

Materials:

* 11 x 17 paper with sections for the cartoon strip
* Markers, pencil crayons
* Imagination and Creativity!

Activity Description:

Students can create a cartoon which details the adventures of Roger, the spawning salmon, on his return to his native spawning grounds at Williams Creek via Lakelse Lake. However, along the way he encounters several problems which he must overcome – if he can! Will Roger ever make it home and find his familiar family and spawning grounds? Some of the problems (which will reflect current concerns in the watershed) might be poor water quality due to human development along the lake shorelines, high nitrogen and phosphorous levels and low oxygen levels, or perhaps beavers, who have been forced away from their usual lands in the south (perhaps due to flooding caused by watershed logging activities) and have moved into the Williams Creek area and started erecting a damn which impedes Rogers progress. Perhaps the water quality is so poor or the elodea is so thick that Roger can’t find his way or a new massive home being built has required that the shoreline be drastically extended and this throws Roger off course! The possibilities are endless.

Also see www.bclss.org/docs/Lakelse%20Lake_Final.pdf and www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/lakels_wtlnd/nat_cul.html for further information and maps relating to on the watershed

Suggested Complementary Activities:

This can be extended into a Readers Theatre with perhaps, the whole class creating the script together. This can also be used as a springboard into puppet plays with small groups designing their own scripts and productions or an awareness campaign whereby your students can create posters and oral presentations to promote awareness of the watershed concerns as they relate to habitat preservation and health.

Lesson 3

Aquatic Life – Lesson 3

Lesson Plan: Migration and Life Cycle of the Salmon

Curriculum Links: Grades 4-7 Science

Duration: One Hour

Location: Classroom

Purpose:

The purpose of the lesson is to provide students with the background knowledge on the species of salmon before studying the environmental issues. The specific environmental issue in the following lessons is how human development has and is affecting the distribution of sockeye salmon in the rivers flowing from and into Lakelse Lake. Within the lessons, students will use their critical thinking skills to try and solve a local environmental problem.

Materials:

* A map that depicts Lakelse Lake and the tributary rivers/streams that flow to and from. See Lakelse Lake link for sketch map.
* Teachers will also need to find pictures or create a power point presentation of the salmon cycle depicting the different stages in salmon development. A good website to look at if a teacher needs more information about salmon and their life cycle is… http://www.clean.ns.ca/library/IdleFree/IdleFree_Grade4Lessons.pdf and/or the book – Luutigm Hoon: Honouring the Salmon – Teacher’s Resource Guide. Available at the Northwest Community College in Terrace, BC
* An excellent lesson plan on pacific salmon is available at… http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/lessons/09/gk2/migrationsalmon.html

Activity Description:

A good hook would be to bring a salmon related item such as candied salmon or sushi with salmon eggs. Ask students to tell you what they know about salmon and brainstorm a web. Once prior knowledge is activated, start lesson off by showing pictures or a power point of the salmon cycle.

Then explain to the students that salmon live in both salt water and fresh water. To help students understand this better, a visual aid of Lakelse Lake and the rivers that flow from it and into the ocean is essential. See Lakelse Lake link for sketch map. Students will learn about the migration of salmon between salt and fresh water, they will also learn that salmon return to the same rivers and streams that they were born in to spawn, and they will learn what happens to male and female salmon after they spawn.

To end the lesson, students will role play the different stages in the life cycle of the salmon. Students will be put in groups and assigned to act out and describe one stage in the life cycle of the salmon. Cue cards will be given out to students with information about their salmon stage. Along one side of a wall in the classroom teachers could design a stream of water that eventually leads out to the ocean (outside the classroom). The pictures of the different stages will be posted along the wall in our ‘salmon stream’.

An example of the salmon role-playing would be if a student were to receive a cue card that said ‘spawning’. He or she would then read out to the other students what the spawning stage entailed and then act it out. Because fish in the spawning stage have to swim against the current, the student would act out how hard this might be. Fish also return to the same place they were born, so a dab of smelly fish oil on the ‘gravel’ in the ‘stream’ in the classroom and have the student swim up the current and return to exact spawning area by sense of smell. There is a great link with salmon activities including salmon puppet shows, salmon debates, and fin rummy games. http://www.fs.fed.us/outdoors/naturewatch/implementation/Curricula/Salmon-Curriculum.PDF

Suggested Complementary Activities:

1. Complete a lesson on the life cycle of cedar trees or on the earth’s seasons and compare it to the life cycle of the salmon. The Adventures of Txamsm – Teacher’s Resource Book – Available at the Northwest Community College in Terrace, BC.

2. English Language Arts: Students could be taught a reading strategy such as inferring or visualizing while reading the book The Salmon or Txamsem and the Salmon Woman. Students could also write a legend or folklore in their literacy class about the characters found in the books listed above. Both books are available at the Northwest Community College in Terrace, BC.

3. Art Class: Students could design a First Nations button blanket or a salmon crest with either ceramics or with paint. Tsimshian Crests and Designs – Available at the Northwest Community College in Terrace, BC.

Lesson 4

Aquatic Life – Lesson 4

Lesson Plan: Migration and Salmon Spawning

Curriculum Links: Grades 4-7 Science

Duration: 45 minutes

Location: Classroom

Purpose:

The purpose of the lesson is for students to become familiar with maps, understand salmon migration consisting of Lakelse Watershed, the Skeena River, and the Pacific Ocean, and to learn what is needed in a stream for salmon production to happen.

Materials:

* map of Lakelse Watershed depicting where Lakelse River flows into the Skeena River and out to the ocean – See website http://www.fishwizard.com/
* a picture of a clean gravel spawning ground versus one filled with sedimentation and a picture of an ideal stream. See pictures below
* An excellent lesson plan on pacific salmon is available at… http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/lessons/09/gk2/migrationsalmon.html

http://www-heb.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/water_quality/fish_and_pollution/glossary_e.htm

A coastal cutthroat juvenile assessment in the Lakelse Watershed

Fish
http://wlapwww.gov.bc.ca/ske/fish/

Activity Description:

Begin by showing students the map of the Lakelse Lake Watershed joined with the Skeena River and the Pacific Ocean – see link http://www.fishwizard.com/

The teacher will show students the 13 tributary rivers/streams that are in the Watershed and indicate which ones are salmon bearing. Salmon bearing streams/rivers include Ena, Andalas, Clearwater, Scully/Schulbuckhand, Hatchery/Granite, Furlong, Blackwater, Williams, and Sockeye. The following website has a nice summary of the tributary rivers/streams. http://www.skeenafisheries.ca/publication_Conserving%20Lakelse%20Fish%20and%20their%20Habitat.pdf

Students need to not only understand the life cycle of the salmon, but they need to understand that salmon who spawn in Lakelse River travel down their own river, then down the Skeena River finally hitting the ocean. A good way for the students to get a clear understanding of this would be to let them go up to the front of the class and trace with their finger the salmon’s route of migration back and fourth.

Students should also understand what a stream needs for salmon production to occur. This information will help students make better observations when they go on their field trip to one of the salmon bearing streams. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has a good website that explains different qualities streams need, such as what kind of trees cover along streams is needed, description of gravel spawning beds, and water quality of streams. http://www-heb.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/water_quality/fish_and_pollution/fish_hab_e.htm

Students also need to know about what might be impacting the streams such sewage disposal systems along the lake and streams. See link for more information. http://www.bclss.org/docs/Lakelse%20Managment%20Plan%202003.pdf

Suggested Complementary Activities:

1. Complete a lesson on the life cycle of cedar trees or on the earth’s seasons and compare it to the life cycle of the salmon. The Adventures of Txamsm – Teacher’s Resource Book – Available at the Northwest Community College in Terrace, BC.

2. English Language Arts: Students could be taught a reading strategy such as inferring or visualizing while reading the book The Salmon or Txamsem and the Salmon Woman. Students could also write a legend or folklore in their literacy class about the characters found in the books listed above. Both books are available at the Northwest Community College in Terrace, BC.

3. Art Class: Students could design a First Nations button blanket or a salmon crest with either ceramics or with paint. Tsimshian Crests and Designs – Available at the Northwest Community College in Terrace, BC.

Lesson 5

Aquatic Life – Lesson 5

Lesson Plan: Stream and Creeks

Activity Title: Measuring Streams and Creeks in the Lakelse Watershed

Curriculum Links: Grades 4-7 Science and Math

Duration: Whole afternoon

Location: In class and at a stream or creek

Purpose:

The purpose of the lesson is to look at environmental impacts on streams and creeks with associated with human development and how this impact might decrease salmon production.

Prerequisites & Skill Development:

Students will have completed mapping exercises in math class. Students have a basic understanding of ecological conditions required for salmon to complete the life cycle of being born, migrating from rivers to oceans, and spawning. Also, students have knowledge of conditions that could inadvertently effect salmon spawning such as water quality, stream flow and how flow might not only affect salmon production, but also erosion of land.

Materials:

* clip board and observation sheet
* meter stick
* calculator
* pen/pencil
* timing device
* an object that will float down the river-oranges work best
* A good educational website that has a complete lesson plan of measuring stream flow is available at… http://www.scienceteacher.org/k12resources/lessons/lesson17.htm

Activity Description:

The lesson will start in class where students will review safety procedures. Following this, students will go to one of the streams/creeks in the Lakelse Watershed, preferably Williams or Hatchery Creek in mid September during the sockeye run. Teacher and students will walk up and down the stream writing down observations. Features to look at are water clarity – murky vs. clear, potential pollutants such as garbage, erosion along stream banks, and/or debris/barriers from fallen trees or log jams. Observations will be discussed during field trip and in later classes. Questions the teacher might ask the students are:

* Do you think the stream is a good salmon habitat/spawning ground?
* Do the rocks look like a good size for salmon spawning?

With the help from the teacher, students will measure stream flow and write down their findings. The website listed above has a method on measuring stream flow. A suggestion from the lesson plan above is to allow students to explore stream flow by throwing a plastic ball in the stream and observing it. Ask students to see if the ball floats down faster than they can walk or to make a guess at how long they think it will take the ball to travel 10 meters.

Suggested Complementary Activities:

1. Science: Students could explore streams and rivers more by looking at the environmental problems associated with the development of dams on rivers. Good website – http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/lessons/14/g68/tgrivers.html

2. Social Studies/geography: Writing a few facts and mapping famous or major rivers in Canada for the younger grades and mapping rivers in the world for the older grades would be a good exercise for students to become more knowledgeable about rivers and their functions. Facts about the rivers students could look could include:

* What fish are found in the rivers?
* What economic development is affecting the rivers in terms of fish stocks?
* Who is fishing in the rivers? (commercial, sports fisherman, First Nations)

Lesson 6

Aquatic Life – Lesson 6

Lesson Plan: Water Cycle

Duration: 1-2 hours

Location: Classroom

Purpose:

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the water cycle of a lake by having them draw a picture of a lake ecosystem, adding human impacts which affect water quality. Students will help fill in the components of a drawing of a water system. They will conclude by creating their own illustrations of human-induced changes to the freshwater habitat of a lake ecosystem.

Prerequisites & Skill Development:

Students will help the teacher draw a lake ecosystem on the whiteboard. Students will discuss the water cycle and the reasons why lakes are important. Students will be able to describe how humans can impact the water cycle and draw pictures illustrating a scenario involving human-induced changes to a lake ecosystem.

Materials:

* Blackboard or whiteboard
* Coloured chalk or erasable markers
* Drawing materials

Activity Description:

On the board, draw a picture of a lake with creeks flowing into it and a river flowing out of the lake. Draw some mountains where the creeks originate. Have students take turns adding the following features to the drawing: trees, animals, houses, farms, and people doing activities related to the things they have drawn (e.g. fishing, boating, swimming, etc.)

Ask students to look at the picture and think about why the creeks, the water from the lake and river is important to everything else in the picture. What do the plants, animals, and people in the picture use the water for? Why is it important that this water be kept clean?

Explain to the students that the water in the creeks and lake initially comes from the sky in the form of rain or snow. When it rains in the mountains or anywhere upstream, the water flows downhill through the creeks and eventually into the lake. Also when snow melts in the mountains, it flows down the creeks and into the lake. Ask students if they have ever noticed this.

Introduce students to the process of evaporation by explaining that, as water travels down the river and into the lake, it slowly evaporates and returns to the air. The river and lake will not become empty, however, because they will be replenished by rainwater and snowmelt.

Ask students to imagine that people have bought more property around the lake and most of them have cut down trees and have planted lawns which they fertilize. How does the fertilizer affect the lake? Would more people have an impact on the lake?

Ask students to look at the new changes that have been added to the drawing (more people, lawns, etc.). Think about all of the changes, what if there are more changes similar to these ones in the future? What might Lakelse Lake look like then?

Suggested Complementary Activities:

Have students work in groups to develop policies that they feel should be implemented to residents and visitors of Lakelse Lake in order to preserve the quality of the water. Once students have created their policies they can present them to the class and receive feedback from their peers.