Onekama Students Visit Weir, Launch Salmon in the Classroom


“The fish were swimming and bouncing, and the water was splashing in my face!” declared Onekama third grader Lillian Mauntler.  Clearly, this was not a typical day in the third grade classroom.


On Friday, October 5, 2012, Onekama third grade students loaded on a school bus for their annual trip to the weir on the Little Manistee River. They watched the salmon swim, listened to DNR fisheries personnel explain the role of the weir, and learned how eggs are taken from the adult salmon.



The field trip was the launch of the 2012-2013 Salmon in the Classroom program for Onekama Elementary School. For nearly 20 years, Onekama third grade students have participated in this exciting learning experience.



Salmon in the Classroom is an established and comprehensive program developed by the Michigan DNR that teaches students about the state's freshwater resources through interactive, hands-on learning. This instrumental learning experience allows students the opportunity to raise, care for, and maintain salmon in their classroom from Fall until Spring. The program culminates at the end of the school year with the release of the young fish into a local watershed that feeds one of the Great Lakes.

The students were well-prepared by their teacher, Sally Catanese, prior to the field trip. They studied the life cycle of salmon, learned associated vocabulary words, and incorporated terms into their weekly spelling tests.


“Did you know that the salmon in this river came from Lake Michigan?” explained student Tiegan Ziehm. “They were born here, and then a few years later they come back to the same place they were born and they lay their eggs here. The salmon have really, really good senses of smell and they smell their way back home.”


While at the weir, DNR personnel gave students an up-close look at adult Chinook salmon and the spawning process. At the end of visit, the class was given some fertilized eggs to take back to their classroom fish tank.


Student Cadence Mcwain described how the salmon lay their eggs. “The salmon lie on their sides and wag their tails to make a hole to lay their eggs in,” said Mcwain. “The hole is called a redd, and after the eggs are in the hole, the fish use their tails to cover up the eggs with gravel. The eggs stay under the gravel all winter and hatch in the Spring.”


When Spring comes, this class of Onekama students will take another field trip – this time to release the salmon from their classroom tank into a local creek. Until then, students will wait and watch their classroom tank to see the wonders of science hatch right before their eyes.


On October 5, 2012 the third grade class went to the M. R. W. The first thing we saw was the fish in the weir. Then we got to see the fish jump in the water fall. After that we went over to the little building and saw the people putting fish in this basket. Then we saw the fish eggs it was cool. Some of the fish were dead. It was gross. I saw some tiny fish. They were cute. Mrs. Catanese got some of the eggs in the bucket . We also got to touch the dead fish. I didn't.  It was fun. I can't wait to go again.
~by Rhiannon

The Manistee Weir
by Ashley

Jon Z. showed us the fish and they jumped very high and they jumped up the ladder. He showed us the place where they squeeze out the fish eggs into the big bucket and put a hose in the bucket. Then some of the eggs fell on the floor and the workers sometimes stepped on the eggs. We got to touch the fish and the female was slimy and the mail was not slimy. They were mushy and cool. Then they showed us the fish getting knocked out. I love our salmon eggs. I saw a lot of Chinook salmon. The male looked like an old man.


Last Friday
by Logan

On Friday Oct. 5, 2012 my class and I went to the Manistee River Weir and when we got there I saw Chinook salmon in the river. The girl salmon looked old like old men. Then we went inside the building and they put a thing inside the girl salmon and blew the eggs out. The male salmon got squeezed the milk out of them . Then we went outside and looked in a ladder that had 4 salmon in it. Also at a different ladder a salmon splashed me and I thought it was angry or something. Then on the bus ride home I pretended I was a fish and kept jumping up and down. The best part was that the female remember where they were born.

The third grade went to the Manistee River Weir. We saw salmon swimming in the river. We saw fish getting harvested with an air compressor. The fish ladder was cool. The fish jumped up the fish ladder. The male fish had a point on its mouth. The female fish did not have a point on its mouth. The fish were very big . The eggs are orange. Some of the eggs are white and that means they are dead. The ranger's name was John and his assistant's name was Kevin. The fish were stinky. We had a lot of fun. We brought fertilized eggs back to school. We have a fish tank in the classroom with the eggs in the tank. My favorite part was when we saw the fish jumping in the water.  ~by Maegan H.

M. R. W.
by Maddy C.

The 3rd grade class went to the weir and saw some fish and fish eggs. From all over the world these fish come to their home (this river) to spawn. I saw fish spawning. I also saw fish jumping the ladder. The male fish has a big jaw with his teeth point up. The male looks like an old man. The female has her teeth a little lower. And the female looks younger. We have a daycare of baby fish eggs. It was fun at the weir. Our guide's were named John and Kevin. It was fun going to the weir. I hope we go back

On October 5th, the 3rd grade class went to the Manistee River Weir.  When we got to the weir a ranger told us a lot of stuff about the salmon. They were called Chinook salmon. Some salmon were laying eggs and some salmon were trying to get up the weir. We got to see them harvest the salmon eggs. To harvest the eggs they stuck an air compressor to push the eggs out. When they got all the eggs out they put them in a bucket. Next we went to the fish ladder. The fish had to jump to get up the ladder. They fertilized the salmon eggs and we brought some to the classroom. It was really fun. ~by Maddie F.

Salmon Project Timeline
(listed in reverse chronological order)

Mrs. Catanese's Main page for 2012 - 2013

The Main Elementary Page for 2012 - 2013

http://www.onekama.k12.mi.us leads to all pages since 1997