Salmon in the Classroom teachers readying for egg pickup

It’s hard to imagine tiny Chinook salmon eggs will one day become the mighty, fighting fish that swim Michigan waters, but it’s a natural wonder that plays out year after year in the DNR’s Salmon in the Classroom program. Though the program raises and releases a relatively small number of fish, it does something just as important – it builds students’ respect and understanding of this very cool species.

Eggs for the SIC program were collected in early October. By mid-November they’ll become “eyed eggs,” meaning that you can actually see the fish eyes as they develop on each egg. At this point, the hardy eggs will be ready for teachers to pick up and transport back to classroom fish tanks. Some 300 teachers (third through 12th grades) and more than 30,000 students are participating this year.

DNR aquatic education coordinator Tracy Page said each classroom will mark the same milestones:

By early December, eggs will hatch into “sac fry” and live off their yolk sacs for a few weeks. By winter break, they should have absorbed their yolk sacs and begun feeding on provided food pellets.
Through winter and early spring, classes observe and feed the fish, test water quality and maintain the tanks. Teachers will use over 30 DNR-provided classroom activities to help students learn about Great Lakes ecology, invasive species, history and even art.
Schools begin releasing fish into approved waterways around the state by mid-April. Release days usually involve fun field trips, with education stations on casting/fishing, macroinvertebrate sampling (fish food), fish identification and other topics. Many community partners get involved, too, offering great experiences for the kids. All fish are released by
June 1.

“This popular program is a highly interactive experience for teachers and students, who are involved in every aspect of raising the salmon and responsible for their survival and release,” Page said. “The kids are getting hands-on learning about science and seeing firsthand that they can make a positive difference on our natural world.”

Everyone can learn more about Salmon in the Classroom through a series of more than 50 videos that cover everything from full-class presentations on the history and life cycle of salmon, to brief looks at time-lapse hatching, water testing and fish tagging.

Classroom teachers interested in applying can do so between Jan. 1 and
April 15 each year.

Questions? Contact Tracy Page at 989-277-0630 or visit Michigan.gov/SIC.