Currently in its tenth year, this unit has developed into an essential part of fifth grade instruction at every elementary school within the Lewiston School District, as well as several elementary schools in the surrounding area including Lapwai, Genesee, Troy and Moscow.
The level of understanding and instructional value of this program actually goes beyond fifth grade expectations. Students are taking an active role in understanding and preserving a culturally historic fish. In addition, the program's success has developed into a cooperative effort that allows students to learn and work alongside professionals from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Nez Perce Tribal Fisheries, Dworshak National Fish Hatchery, Bureau of Land Management, Lewis-Clark State College, Dworshak State Parks, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Nez Perce Historical Park.
This learning opportunity begins in March when each elementary school receives 50-100 steelhead eggs. Within a few weeks the eggs hatch and our young biologists begin the exploration process. Every student in the fifth grade maintains a science journal that is used to study the aquatic environment, document and update data, and share their observations on blog site. Within the last two years, many students have started using I pads to record video of fish development.
The culminating event for the investigation is a field trip to release their steelhead at Spalding National Historical Park near Lapwai. This year, students will release their fish on Thursday, May 28th and Friday, May 29th. Each student releases a steelhead fry into the Clearwater River and spends the remainder of the day completing an environmental study with scientists from participating agencies.
This unique investigation and release of steelhead fry into the Clearwater River is integrated across the curriculum and the knowledge students' gain goes beyond required state standards. Students are provided the opportunity to develop authentic learning relationships through a variety of disciplines and methods of instruction.
Contact the regional fish and game office (208) 799-5010 for more information on this program.