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Youngsters study salmon up close

Lila Rahm, 9, takes observation notes near a salmon egg tank in her classroom. In March, the eggs will be released.  - Seraine Page
Lila Rahm, 9, takes observation notes near a salmon egg tank in her classroom. In March, the eggs will be released.
— image credit: Seraine Page

One hundred tiny special guests appeared in a Central Kitsap School District classroom on Wednesday.

At Clear Creek Elementary, Barbara Bromley’s fourth-graders were introduced to salmon eggs that had been deposited into their classroom at 8 a.m. in a corner tank.

One by one, the students peered into the tank, looking down at the small, jelly looking eggs.

“We’ve been studying salmon all year,” said Bromley, a science and math teacher. “I think these kids have a real sense of our connection to the environment.”

Bromley noted the students are aware and proactive in recycling, and prior lessons have involved the importance of water quality and respecting nature. Even when they visit the creek behind the school, students have specific spots they can sit, she said.

The salmon eggs, placed on a tray within the tank, aren’t the only ones who are special to the classroom. There’s also two bull frogs, Peaches the snake, and Spike, a lizard.

“It’s been very interesting,” said student Haylee Hampton. “Spike our pet lizard has been very interested (in the salmon eggs).”

Hampton said, for her, learning about the salmon life cycle has been enjoyable.

“I like the smell of it, and I like to eat it,” she said. “I like how they look. Rainbow salmon, I like the color of their gills.”

Small groups of students visited briefly throughout the morning with the eggs to record observations in their salmon journals.

With 100 small eggs in various stages of development, there was a lot to note.

Ashton Pearcy, 9, pointed out one particular salmon egg he thought looked “milky” in color. He scribbled his observation in his notebook quickly, especially since he thought that meant the egg would die.

“It looks like little, tiny bouncy balls,” Pearcy said of the eggs. “My favorite thing about salmon is they do good stuff for the world.”

After visiting with the salmon eggs, students worked with parent volunteer Anita White on fish art. White advised students on painting a dead rock fish, which was then pressed onto a thin cloth.

This week, the students will take their art and adhere labels to the various parts of the fish’s anatomy.

While the smelly project was kept outside, it didn’t keep some students from getting weirded out by the texture of the deceased fish.

“It’s kinda creepy with the eye,” said Isabella Baltazor. “But it is kinda cool because this is my first time doing this.”

Since September, the students have been taught in a variety of mediums about the fish, Bromley said. In October, they visited Grover Creek Fish Hatchery to see the early stages of salmon that would later be in their classroom.

The students will release the salmon into a creek behind the school in March. Until then, they will be required to observe and take notes at the various stages, Bromley said.

“Usually they say goodbye,” she said. “They name them.”

Because the nearby creek is so special, Bromley also takes her class to visit and sit in nature. Her students also took part in a video as part of an application for a Scotties grant called Trees Rock!

The video shows the students near the creek explaining why it is so important to them, and asking Scotties to give the grant to their class. The grand prize could be $10,000 for the school to beautify the outdoors.

For Bromley’s classroom, that means giving back to the creek that her students’ salmon will be flourishing in.

“Knowing when we’re in sixth grade and we can look into the creek and know we made that happen (is the best),” said Lila Rahm. “I guess that’s pretty cool.”

 

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