Dive into an ocean adventure with the extraordinary life and journey of migratory fish. The developmental stages and migration patterns of these remarkable marine creatures link our worldwide water systems and shine a light on our responsibility as global citizens to protect and defend our planetary water system and the life that depends on it.
In this unit, students will learn about multiple ecosystems and the human impact to these systems as they follow migratory fish through their life cycles. As students study these migratory fish, they will learn about the ecosystems of the rivers, Long Island Sound estuary, and the Atlantic Ocean. In this way, students will develop an understanding of the complex interactions between these ecosystems as well as their interdependent relationships in our global water system enabling the survival of these world travelers.
This engaging thematic curriculum unit is designed for students of 3
grades to explore the more complex ecosystems of the Long Island Sound watershed. This unit builds upon a prior unit I wrote called, “Just Ask! Exploring Marine Life of Long Island Sound,” /curriculum/units/2013/4/13.04.02.x.html. Through this study, students will learn the fundamental principles and interactions between multiple ecosystems and the marine creatures that swim within them, through the eyes of the Atlantic Salmon, American Shad, Striped Bass, and the American Eel. As students develop an appreciation and deeper understanding of these marine creatures and each ecosystem, students will more fully understand the significance of the human impact of these systems and be inspired to invest in potential solutions. Lessons will build conceptual knowledge and language around the global water system and the life within it in outdoor classroom settings, hands on activities, and labs. These activities will build a deeper understanding of the abiotic and biotic features of Connecticut rivers, Long Island Sound estuary, and ocean ecosystems empowering students to analyze problems and begin to form potential solutions. With a sound understanding of these interdependent relationships, students will begin to recognize the threats to these ecosystems and address real world problems that are impacting the journey and health these migratory fish as they move through multiple ecosystems.
This problem based unit design allows students to identify real world problems in their neighboring waters, develop essential questions, and then form hypotheses. Using the scientific method to set up and conduct tests, students will work in the field to conduct tests and collect information about the state of the water at various locations of Long Island Sound watershed including the Mill River, Quinnipiac River, and Long Island Sound. This study will highlight fresh water and salt water ecosystems and the impact environmental factors within the watershed have on these systems. While developing a deeper understanding of the content through field studies, questioning, and research, students will cultivate the academic language of marine science along with the skills to gather and analyze data. Students will then draw conclusions about the effects of the varying aspects of the watershed on the marine environments. Through this study, students will develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of these migratory fish and the complex interdependence of these multiple ecosystems. As a result, students will seek to advocate, educate, and protect their existence in solution based problem solving. Finally, students will apply this knowledge to find solutions to identified problem(s), synthesizing knowledge of the content and using data to develop plans that will lead to solutions. In this way, students will have an opportunity to affect change as empowered citizens and stewards of our global environmental community.