Students learning about the salmon life cycle are finding out how to mix salmon eggs on a bucket with milt squeezed from a male coho salmon. At at field trip in Anchor Point, Alaska, students from the lower Kenai Peninsula learned about the very beginning of the life cycle
The Salmon in the Classroom program starts with the experience of having children begin at the beginning of the coho salmon life cycle, observed close up. Jenny Gates, a fisheries biologist with the Soldotna office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Sport Fish, showed students how the milt was collected and placed into a bucket of eggs.
“This is kicking off the Salmon in the Classroom program so that the kids get to take home fertilized eggs,” Gates said of the egg take field trip. “They get to watch the development of the eggs.”
After sending hundreds of fertilized eggs back to classrooms, the students observe and care for the salmon as they grow into juveniles.
“It’s kind of a science lesson in itself because it’s going to require taking daily temperatures, writing down general observations, and then obviously studying the different life stages of these fish,” Gates said.
The program focuses on elementary schools. and the ages of the students are taken into account in regard to the care of the salmon fry.
The children are not the only ones who learn. Fourth grade teacher Hayley Walters is new to Alaska, and the field trip was a new experience for her.
“It was really cool,” she said of the demonstration when the eggs were gathered from a female salmon. “… I had no idea there were so many eggs in there. So I think it was just as fun for me as it was for the kids.”