Raising salmon brings joy to students

Three students looking into fish tank at salmon eggs

For the past four years, Muskegon Montessori Academy for Environmental Change’s middle schoolers and 4th/5th-grade classrooms have been raising salmon in one of their classrooms! This is not a simple feat, but students are committed to raising them from eggs until they are grown enough to be released. This takes approximately eight months and happens from October to June. 

Some of the many things that students need to do to result in perfect salmon are:

  1. Clean the tank regularly.
  2. Test the water to ensure that it is healthy for them to grow.
  3. Feed the proper amount of food and in the correct increments. 

The salmon in the classroom is part of the environmental science curriculum, specifically their life cycle and the journey they go through to lay eggs. They are doing this because there is a decrease in the number of salmon in West Michigan and they want to be part of making a difference.   

Students love to participate in this experience. They know it is a privilege when they get to do the water testing, feed the salmon or clean the tank. They get to see the full life cycle of the salmon happening in front of them. Talking in detail about each of the processes as they are happening helps to get hands-on, experiential learning. 

Salmon eggs in fish tank

Students love to go on the field trip to release the salmon, too. Weather dependent, they will be releasing them on June 1 or 4, 2020. There are certain places that they are allowed to release them, so the classes usually go to Chinook Pier in Grand Haven. Typically someone from the Steelheaders Fish Club of Grand Haven will come and talk about what they do and the importance of their work of raising the salmon. 

On top of meeting the Steelheaders Fish Club, they typically see commercial fishermen who have just come back with their catch and they get to watch them clean the fish at the cleaning station. The students absolutely love to watch that so we talk about local products as opposed to products that come from other states and even countries.

“My favorite part of this experience is how excited the kids get about all the changes that happen and how attached they get to the salmon. They usually come up with a name for their fish when we release them and some of them make up stories about what is going to happen to the salmon after they are released,” Stacey Sorensen.