by Michelle Kelly
Chapter 1 of the MinnAqua Leader’s Guide - Fishing: Get in the Habitat! focuses on Minnesota aquatic habitats and houses six of our 39 lessons. Lesson 1:6 – From Frozen to Fascinating is the last lesson in Chapter 1. November winds are blowing and winter will soon envelop our lakes, rivers, and streams. The seasonal changes are dramatic in Minnesota and stark winter landscapes can appear nearly empty of all the living things that inhabited these places just a few months before.
What happens to all of the aquatic organisms in the winter? Do they sleep for the winter under the sheets of ice and blankets of snow? How do aquatic organisms weather the cold winter conditions and reawake in spring?
In this activity, students investigate how spring-like conditions trigger plankton and algae from bottom sediments to emerge and resume activity after winter dormancy. Students add scoops of bottom sediment (liquid or frozen, collected after frost) from an icy-cold lake, pond, or wetland to large containers of water to make “mini-ponds.”
Working in groups, students design their own experiments and place their mini-ponds in various environments within the classroom to encourage dormant organisms to emerge. Groups make predictions, decide where-and in which conditions-in the room to place their mini-ponds, record observations over a four-week period, and draw conclusions. They also use identification keys and pond field guides to identify and sketch organisms in the developing mini-pond. Each group prepares a final presentation that communicates their results to the class.
Teaching about adaptations exhibited by aquatic organisms for surviving Minnesota winters with Lesson 1:6 - From Frozen to Fascinating connects well with Lesson 2:8 – Fish In Winter in which students learn about the limitations imposed on fish survival by Minnesota winters. Lesson 2:8 provides an opportunity for students to role-play being fish in winter.
Completion of these two lessons provides a good foundation for a winter unit that includes an ice-fishing trip that will surely create lasting memories for your students. Prepare kids for going ice-fishing with Lesson 5:7 – Making Ice Fishing Jiggle Sticks. Get comprehensive information on what you will need to bundle up in layers and safely take kids outside with their new jiggle-sticks to go ice fishing with Lesson 6:2- Ice Fishing and Winter Safety.
Ice fishing is both easy and exciting. It’s fun to hike across the ice to your fishing holes imagining hungry sunnies or walleyes lurking below!