Brine Shrimp

This summer we purchased a 90 gallon saltwater tank with the goal of not only teaching our children about marine life but to also teach them how to care for their environment.  Coach Chip began the morning by talking with the students about how to care for the fish tank.  They read a book together and learned how much and how often to feed the fish, as well as how to determine if the fish were not feeling well. The class then made their way to the fish tank with Coach Chip.  Some of the students began to ask question about what types of the things fish could eat as Coach Chip reviewed how to feed the fish.  Some of the students referred back to the book in search of answers. Many tried to observe the fish to determine what the fish might need. As Coach Chip discussed more about the brine shrimp that he had intended to feed the fish, the students realized that the shrimp were very, very small.  So small, that the children could not make out what they looked like by just looking at them.  The students are now familiar with the microscope, so we brought out the microscope to look at the brine shrimp.

Before we looked at the actual shrimp to see what its characteristics were, we presented the children with the question, “What do you think they look like?”  They were presented paper and a pencil.  The students quickly grabbed a pencil and paper and began to draw their predictions of what a brine shrimp might look like.  They discussed what shape they thought the body would be, how many legs, would they have teeth or not, and even what color they were………. The teacher then placed a few brine shrimp in a petri dish.  What do you see?  Do they look like you thought they might look? the teacher continued to question. Each child eagerly took a turn looking into the microscope lens and then quickly ran back to their drawings.  The students were then presented with a photo of a brine shrimp.

“Brine shrimp have ten legs,” Nohea informed the class. As the students compared what they had previously drawn to what they had seen in microscope to the picture, many revisited their drawings.   As the children’s thinking evolves, we encourage them to revisit their representations to determine if it shows what they intended or if it needs to be changed.  Many discovered that their drawing needed to be changed.  So the pictures began to evolve. The students then revisited the fish tank to watch as the brine shrimp were used to provide nourishment to the fish.  They were able to see the excitement in the tank as all of the fish raced to eat the shrimp, and all of the other animals came out of their hiding places to join in the feast……… This activity supported the following learning goals:   

*The student knows that living organisms have basic needs that must be met for them to survive within their environment. The student is expected to:

(A)  identify the basic needs of animals;

(C)  compare and give examples of the ways living organisms depend on each other and on their environments such as food chains within a garden, park, beach, lake, and wooded area.

*The student is expected to:

(A)  observe, record, and compare how the physical characteristics and behaviors of animals help them meet their basic needs such as fins help fish move and balance in the water;

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