Science: There is no direct link to Science. However, the lesson may be used as a pre/post evaluative activity linked to other Grade 7/8 Lessons
Geography 7/8, Patterns in Physical Geography, Core Unit 1: Our Community is Unique; Optional Unit 2: River Systems
Geography 7/8, Patterns in Human Geography, Core Unit 1: Patterns in our Community
Duration: 40 to 60 minutes
Key Terms: chemical stresses, dilemma, physical stresses, stream rehabilitation, landfill site
Through small group problem solving with dilemma cards, students will have the opportunity to examine their own values and beliefs as they relate to fishes and their habitats.
- Students should become aware of how some human activities can benefit or harm aquatic ecosystems.
- Students will be able to recognize at least 3 situations in the community that are beneficial or hazardous to fishes and the aquatic ecosystem; and
- be able to explain how their own values affect any personal action decisions that they would make related to these issues.
This activity is designed to reveal the value students give to fish, and to rank that value relative to others that they may hold. It may be useful to use as both a pre- and post-activity for a unit on fish, wildlife, or the environment in general, in order to see if students values or priorities have changed any.
Most of the dilemma cards deal with physical stresses in a fishes' environments. Physical stresses involve the removal or disruption of critical habitat components. The removal of plant growth along the water's edge results in the movement of sediment and organic matter into the water. Heavy machinery working in or near water can also cause more sediment and organic matter to mix with water. Sedimentation covers spawning and nursery areas and can seriously harm fish populations. The removal of submerged rocks and boulders for use in dock and wall construction can also destroy spawning areas and habitats required for shelter and food production.
Cottagers often remove aquatic plants from their shoreline to improve space for boat handling and to improve swimming conditions. When they do this, they remove nursery areas for young fishes and habitats for insects that are food for fishes. Many of the insect larvae and forage fishes important to fish diets need these plants. As well as physical stresses, chemical stresses (such as garbage leachate, fertilizers, pesticides, sewage, oil and factory wastes) can harm aquatic ecosystems.
set of dilemma cards for each group of students
- Copy and cut out the dilemma cards.
- Divide the class into groups of four or five and give each group a stack of dilemma cards. Place them face down at the centre of the group.
- Have students draw lots to see who goes first. Each student then draws a card from the top of the stack, studies the situation, decides what to do about it and formulates reasons for this decision. Note taking is recommended. This preparation should take less than five minutes.
- The first student reads the situation and solutions listed on their card to the rest of the group. The student announces and explains his or her decision and invites comments from the other members of the group. The discussion should last about five minutes. The person whose dilemma is being discussed should have the opportunity to ask questions of the other members of the group and to clarify the decision. It is not necessary to reach a consensus within the group.
- The first student returns the card to the pile and the next student repeats the process.
- Continue until each student has had a turn.
- Have students research and write their own dilemma cards about a fisheries or water-related problem in their own community that touches their life. Trade and answer these new dilemmas.
- If you are using pre and post format, ask students to assess and explain any values-related changes in their thinking, feelings or actions related to fish, fisheries and water.
- Have class use the issues outlined on the dilemma cards in a formal debate.
- Have students write a scenario about what would happen if it was discovered that eating lots of fishes every day keeps humans from getting old. Ask them to answer the following questions. Would humanity try to control all of the activities that are hazardous to fishes? Would they be able to control all of these activities?
Adapted with permission from "Ethi-Reasoning", Project WILD Activity Guide. Ottawa, Ontario: The Canadian Wildlife Federation, 1990.
DILEMMA CARD 1
You help your parents farm. You have all noticed a significant decrease in the number of fish in the stream that runs through your farm. You and they know that keeping cattle out of the stream on your property will enable more fish to survive there because cattle disturb the streambed and pollute the water. Keeping cattle out of the stream, however, would cost some money and require a lot of work to put up fences. That would reduce your already limited free time, and put off for at least a year the agreed-to purchase of an ATV for you. You would like to conserve the fishes, though, because you like to watch them swimming in the stream and you have always enjoyed catching and eating fish. Your parents have asked for your opinion of what should be done. What do you say, and why? What does that say about how much you presently value fish and fish habitat?
DILEMMA CARD 2
You are a member of your school student council. Most of the town's young people have signed a petition to have a recreational park built along the river that flows through the town. It is the only site for additional playing fields and equipment most feel are needed. The map of the proposed park indicated that many of the trees along the river would have to be cut down. The loss of shade trees would result in warmer water, thus threatening the river's prized cold-water trout population. A lack of trees would also result in soil being eroded into the river's clear water, smothering spawning and nursery habitats and making it difficult for fish to breathe. The planners have also proposed that a walking path be built along the river, which could result in garbage being thrown into the water. While the construction of the park would endanger life in the river, you do recognize the need for town residents, especially kids, to have a place to walk, play and picnic. The council is proposing a resolution supporting development of the park. Do you argue for or against, and why? What does that say about how much you presently value fish and fish habitat?
DILEMMA CARD 3
You are the President of your school's student council. Your peers have always respected you as a good leader. You are very concerned about the stream near the school and would like to have some of the students in your school involved in a "stream clean-up program". You feel that if the garbage was removed from the stream near the school, it would make a better home for fishes and a more attractive place for classes to do their stream studies. You think that your idea of a stream clean-up program would not be very popular and suggesting it may cause you to lose some of the respect and support of your council members. Do you present your idea or not, and why? What does that say about how much you presently value fish and fish habitat?
DILEMMA CARD 4
Your town recently purchased some private lands containing part of a stream that runs through your community. Long-term plans call for this land to used as a park, but development is some years away. Meanwhile, informal public access has led to use of a broad, deep pool as a swimming hole by many of the town kids, and you have enjoyed it yourself. However, you have noticed that this activity, plus increased erosion from rainfall running off newly-beaten paths to the pool, is creating muddy water downstream in which fish cannot survive. Your friends feel that bringing this to the attention of the town would probably shut off access again to the swimming hole. What do you do, and why? What does that say about how much you presently value fish and fish habitat?
DILEMMA CARD 5
Your family recently bought a cottage on a small lake. Your waterfront contains tall grasses,wildflowers and bushes with a narrow path winding down to the water's edge. Most of the bottom off your shore contains lake weed attached to the bottom. Your parents would like to open up the waterfront, create a beach, and clear the weed for better swimming. You know that this will increase the runoff of mud into the lake, lowering water quality. As well, removing the lake weed will remove nursery areas for young fishes and habitats for insects that are food for fishes. Many of the insect larvae and forage fishes important to fish diets need these plants. What do you suggest, and why? What does that say about how much you presently value fish and fish habitat?