Fourth-Grade Salmon Scientists

Posted on 07/12/2023
This is the image for the news article titled Fourth-grade students at Wiley Elementary School are some of the next generation empowered to be environmental stewards. 

Their teacher, Mrs. Gailey, made the most of a unique opportunity to participate in a week-long Teacher-Scientist Partnership (TSP) arranged and hosted by ESD 123 and PNNL.  This ongoing collaboration, funded by Clime Time, is an initiative to help teachers learn and teach climate science education.  

TSP Zoom Call Last summer, Mrs. Gailey’s cohort joined PNNL Scientists over Zoom for a collaborative learning experience.  The cohort brainstormed ways to monitor the migration of salmon, sturgeon, and lamprey in the Columbia River Basin, along with climate-related changes to their migratory patterns.  They learned about current methods and technologies, and despite being primarily virtual, they were still able to participate in hands-on science and visit fish and water labs.

TSP in the field This year’s cohort got to move away from the virtual environment and conduct investigations which included testing the Snake River water, analyzing data, and learning from PNNL experts in the field of salmon research.  They toured the McNary Dam and the Aquatics Lab at PNNL, all with the goal of learning how climate change in the form of warming temperatures and changing water conditions affect the salmon population.  

Image of painting of fish With the help of a grant she applied for, Mrs. Gailey brought similar experiences to her fourth-grade students, from touring dams to doing field investigations of water temperature and quality and examining their role in declining salmon populations.  Integrated into the students’ learning were perspectives from the Wanapum people, from how they fished to art and storytelling, highlighting how salmon play a vital role in the ecosystem as a primary food source for many species and rich fertilizer.  Taking their learning inland from the rivers, students also learned about the shrub-steppe environment we live in locally.  This hands-on approach has given the students agency and clarity about the delicate balance necessary for a healthy ecosystem and humanity’s work to be responsible citizens. 

Read more about last year's Teacher Scientist Partnership experience. 

Read more about this year's Teacher Scientist Partnership experience. 

Read more about Mrs. Gayle's fourth-grade class experience. 
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