Hands-on Biology at the Cronin Salmon Station

On November 15th, fifth graders visited the Cronin Salmon Station in Sunderland as the kick-off to our endangered species unit.  We began with an informative introductory discussion with Mickey Novak, in which we learned about the history of the salmon population in the Connecticut River watershed.

Students were later invited to put on waders, get in one of the tanks, and attempt to catch salmon.  They were surprised by how strong the salmon were, and how difficult they were to catch!  (The salmon seemed unperturbed by their visitors).

After viewing fertilized salmon eggs and one-year-old salmon indoors, we proceeded outdoors.  We watched as a biologist caught salmon, decided if it was male, female, or barren, and in some cases, harvested eggs from the females.  Students became adept at identifying the fish before the biologist did!

Later this year, our class will raise salmon in the classroom, prior to releasing them into a tributary of the Connecticut River as part of this ongoing restoration project.

Hiking the 4H Trail in East Leverett

Fifth graders recently hiked on the newly conserved 4H Trails in East Leverett as part of an ongoing poetry project.  Their goal was to find inspiration for fall nature poems, which will eventually be mounted along the trail.

Fifth graders quickly discovered a series of “root walls” that resulted from large, uprooted trees (perhaps the results of Hurricane Sandy?).

They quickly captured observations in words and sketches to bring back to the classroom for poetry writing.

The varied landscape of the trails included woods, streams, meadows, a farmyard, a swampy area, a covered bridge, and more.  Student writers found some wonderful inspiration as they ventured forth.  We can’t wait to see the poem that this trip inspires!