Fins to Freedom!

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Boy, is Room 24 lucky! After a week or so of bitter cold and wind chills going down as far as 0°F in the Portland area, we had a break in the weather that allowed us to actually enjoy being outside on our field trip to the Willamette River to release our salmon. It was cold, but compared to a couple of days ago, Tuesday was almost a heat wave.

The class represented Lewis well. The bus driver on the way back gave me a compliment on the behavior of the class that I wanted to pass on to everybody. Also, thanks to our chaperones Gwynn, Pam, Megan, and Gloria for braving the elements with us to make this a successful field trip that the kids will remember for a long time.

Each student had the opportunity to not only let a few salmon go, but to measure the pH and check on the temperature of the water. The highlight for kids and grownups alike was Salmon vs. Predator. The game was simple and had a point to it: Go from being a salmon egg to a fully-grown salmon that lays eggs without getting chewed up by a power generator in a dam, eaten by hungry birds (not Angry Birds!) that like to eat eggs, devoured by bears or eagles, caught by humans, or done in by pollution in the river. In other words, make it all the way through a salmon life cycle without interruption and you win.

The percentage of salmon fry that survive depends on the species, but suffice it to say that only a few make the full journey. The purpose of the game was to simulate that experience.

We should definitely give thanks to the Reed College Science Outreach program that makes all this possible. Kristy Gonyer and the students who help her did an outstanding job organizing and facilitating this field trip. Student reactions to the field trip will be added as they come in:

 I had a very fun time on the field trip. It was probably my favorite science project so far. The only problem was it was quite cold. I really liked the game at the very end because it was a little challenging, my favorite way. I also liked releasing the salmon, hope most of them survived. By Gabriel

On Tuesday, December 10, I went on a field trip to release 60 salmon into the Willamette River. We each got a cup with some salmon in it. The salmon were at the alevin stage when we let them go. When I let mine go I saw two of them go squiggling away into the deeper water real fast. I was freezing cold! It smelled kind of fishy. By Emmy

I was in a small group of kids. Henry’s mom was the chaperone. The field trip was not fun. The one fun thing was releasing the salmon. I was cold lots so it was not fun. The game was not fun. By Alex

I thought the field trip was fun.  There were a lot of people on the bus.  I heard lots talking and an empty can of soda rattling around at our feet.  When we got off the bus in Milwaukie, we walked down to the Willamette River.  At the river, we received our instructions from the Reed kids and our cups of baby salmon to release. My favorite thing was releasing the salmon.  The river water smelled fishy.
The river water was cold.  Forty-eight degrees.  This made me happy.  It was exactly what the baby salmon needed when they were released.  When I saw the ducks and geese swim in, however, I thought, “This looks like exactly what the baby salmon DO NOT NEED!”
At the very end of the day, we played a fun game called Predator vs. Prey.  It was hard to get through the turbines, but easy to get past the fisherman.
Thank you, Mr. Colvin and all the Reed kids, for a great day!  I learned so much from growing these salmon. By Henry

When we went to Jefferson Street Park to release our salmon it was very cold. I could barley feel my hands. I had to wear a sweater, a coat, gloves and boots. The game was fun, and it warmed me up. We were the eggs and you had to get tapped on the head to hatch. Then we had to run through a long jump rope that was supposed to be a turbine. Two people were the hawks that would tag you and you would be a dead salmon. One of the parents played the fishermen and would tag you. You also had to pick up three poker chips, which I guess were supposed to be baby salmon. Someone would shout “Pollution!” and all the dead salmon would try to tag you while standing on the blue tarp where the dead salmon had to go. They would have to do that without moving off of the blue tarp.

We all had to get through two parents who were supposed to be bears.  They too would try to tag you. Then you had to jump over a piece of rope and you were done. We played this three times. Before that we had each taken a small cup with salmon in it and dipped in the water. The water was freezing! We waited until all the salmon swam out. One of mine died and one darted out in to the open waters of the cold Willamette. The rest of them stayed were they were supposed to.

The rocks on the beach were really sharp and I cut myself a little. The sea gulls, ducks and geese were really loud and hurt my eardrum. After that we did some science experiments. The first one was we took the temperature of the water. If it had been more than 55 degrees it would be bad for the fish. Luckily it was 54 degrees.

Then we had to take the pH of the water. The pH is how much oxygen is in the water. A good pH for salmon is 7.3 and ours was 7.2. The smell of the pH liquid was really bad and it almost made me gag. By Simon

Last Tuesday my class went on a field trip to release our salmon that we’ve been raising. We released them in the Willamette River. Every kid got their own cup of salmon to release. After each kid let all their salmon in the river, our groups tested the water temperature. The coldness of the water shocked them a little bit so not all of them lived. Next we played a fun game and went back to school on the TriMet bus. By Ruby

For some apparent reason, the fish started to swim back to the shore! I didn’t know why so I was making a current so they went out to the Willamette. A few died. They also swam into the rocks and hid. Their camouflage made them harder to see. By Sean A.

The Very Start

The very start of a field trip at 11:32 AM. The day was nice, cloud covered,

And partly sunny. I played Foursquare with Gabriel, a Classmate, in fact, I was 1st square for the time being. An awesome Kindergartner, beat me at Foursquare. I felt good for him being beaten and all.

12:05 PM.

I was at the line waiting to get in. Then I saw a figure at the door.

I caught a glimpse of the figure… IT Was Mom! Standing Plain,

Noble, Crowning, and Tall.

 30 minutes later…

Mom, standing near a smooth, carved window,

Walked in, Jaws Dropped, and Now…!?

A simple calm, nice sentence. I was talking to Tate and Diego.

Then I went to the restroom, then the salmon tank.

The Riverbank Shore

A bus on time. Dream on. A muddy boat ramp on the riverbank shore on
The Willamette River. The Salmon were yearning, waiting, urging to reach

The shallow water on the Riverbank Shore. I was sad to see the dead Seagull. I shakily released the alevin to be free.

 The Way Back

We ran to the bus stop and reached it and finally it got here.

2:10 pm.

I waited for the bus and SCREECH!!!!!

It stopped and we got to the school and I grabbed the stuff and headed for the office and home…

Report ended. By Sean S.

Yesterday on the field trip I felt like my hands were going to fall off because it was so cold. I was also very excited. The best part to me was the salmon life cycle game because it was active and fun.
I felt a salmon slipping from my hand to the water. I heard a seagulls screeching. We had a public bus it was not that bad because it was wasn’t busy. If I had to guess I would say it was about 31 degrees. By Diego

On December 11, 2013 we went to a field trip to release our salmon at the Willamette River.

We had to walk to the bus stop, then we got on the bus, but we got on the wrong bus.

So we had to get off the bus and wait a little more. Then when our bus finally came, we got on the bus and started driving. We drove for about 20 minutes and we came to a stop. We carried our salmon to our leaders, the Reed College students, and they told us what to do. Then we started working.

First we measured the temperature of the water. After we did everything we played a game. We had to go through a spinner and a bunch of other stuff. We thanked them and got on the bus again and drove back to our school.  By Joseph

I had so much fun on the field trip. It was cool to release the salmon fry. I found out that since they were on the bus it was warm, but in the water it’s really cold and that’s how they like it. The game that we played was fun because we got to be the salmon. I also found out that ducks are not one of the salmons’ predators. I learned so much from Gabby and Austin. By Faith

We waited at the TriMet bus for about 15 minutes and then we got off the bus and we got into the parking lot and the Reed College students’ boss was there. So was the Reed College student and she announced this: “Okay, everyone is going to get their own little group of fish,” and then we poured them into the river and as we poured them she told us that ducks are herbivores so they wouldn’t eat them. The fish kept getting caught in the sand and the ducks ate a lot of them. We also played a game called Salmon versus Predator. I won twice. The Salmon trip was fun. I want to do it again except the salmon dying part was so sad. By David

The salmon field trip was fun. We first got a small tub of baby Salmon and then went down to the river and let them swim out of the tub. Next we walked back up and got some supplies and walked back down and tested the oxygen of the water and the temperature and the pH of the water after that we played a salmon lifecycle game. It was really fun! By Sevyn

On the salmon field trip we first got a little cup with 15 to 20 salmon in it. Then we let them go (but most of them stayed on the shore and died by the rocks in it). Then after that we went up to get supplies for testing the water to make sure the water was right for the salmon. Then we played a fun game to see how hard it is in the salmon life cycle. It was hard and fun at the same time. It was funny to see Mr. Colvin as the bear and see Gabriel’s mom as the hawk. This is how you play the game. First you are an egg, then someone taps you, then you go through a jump rope, then you try to get through the hawk. Then you get food while you try to get away from the fisherman. Then you try to get away from the dead fish because when they say a word and they try to touch you and if they touch you you are a dead fish, too. If you get through that you try to get away from the bear. Then you are done with the game. Then right after the game we walked back to the bus and went back to school. By June

We started walking to the bus stop. We went to Milwaukie and went to the Willamette River to release the salmon. After we released the salmon we played a game, then we went back to school. I also saw a dead bird and ducks and a dead fish. I like the salmon game the most. By Tanner

Yesterday my class went to downtown Milwaukie to release the salmon. It sounds easy but it was hard! We left after lunch so everyone was ready. At school they have a bus stop on each side of the road. That could be inconvenient for other people including 25 kids! So the first bus was the wrong bus, so we went across the street and finally got on the correct bus. But this bus smelled bad. So after that traumatizing bus ride we were there. We all got a cup of Salmon to pour into the river so we were ready. Then we started to put the fish in the river, but some of them went into shock. But who could blame them? The river was freezing and I’m not a fish and I stuck my hand in and I’m still cold! But overall it was a lot of fun. By Kennedy

When my class and I were walking to the bus stop, the bus had just arrived. When we got in the bus the driver said this is the wrong bus, so we got off and went to the next bus. As we arrived Kristy and our college person Gabby. Kristy is her boss, and we have another college person named Austin but she couldn’t make it so a girl named Kinzie was her substitute. Let’s talk about the salmon: when it was time to let them go, I set my little group go and some of them didn’t make it, sadly. Plop! Someone started to throw rocks at ducks. Honk! Honk! Geese just flew up overhead. After that was over we played a game. It started out with a jump rope. You have to try to get through then comes the hawk, the fisherman, bear, and then the finish line. By Somaly

The salmon release was cool and interesting because I loved seeing the salmon being released and it’s new home. The salmon field trip was also disgusting because the dead seagull had a snapped back. It was fun to play the salmon game on the field trip. By McKela

Yesterday was the day we went to the Milwaukie Boat Ramp to release the salmon fry we’ve had for weeks upon weeks. I measured the PH of the Willamette River. It was about 7.5, and the salmon need water 6.3 through 8.5 to survive. Something I will add is exactly when I released my 2 salmon 5 Ducks came to see what the heck was going on. We also played an Obstacle Course Game. It didn’t really have a name, but we still went along with it. I lost 2 times, but I also won 2 times. Kind of a drawback that I lost 2 times, but I evened out the score the score with myself. The goal of the game was to make it past the first 2 obstacles, get a token, go past ANOTHER 2 obstacles. You’d have to almost slide on the ground to get to the finish line! By Tate

It was Tuesday and we were on our way to release the salmon. At 12:30 we were out the front door of Lewis Elementary School. We were waiting for a little while and then we got on the TriMet us, but it was the wrong bus, so we had to hurry to get out of there. Finally we got on the right bus and we were on our way to release salmon. Right when we got there, we released salmon, then we took the temperature of the water and it was warmer in there than out here! Then we played a salmon game. It was really fun! But after that it was time to go. I had a great field trip. By Lawson

Our salmon field trip was fun! At around 12:30 we got ready for the field trip. My chaperone was Gloria, Franny’s grandma. We went outside and walked to the bus stop. When we got on the bus and everyone was seated, the bus driver told us that we got on the wrong bus, so we had to go to the other bus. We had to wait for five minutes then the bus came. When we got on Mr. Colvin asked the bus driver if it was the right bus, the bus driver said “yes”. On the ride the bus went by my grandma’s house. When we finally arrived, we saw Gabby and Kristy, but not Austin. We talked a little. Then we let the fish go. A couple of them got stuck between the rocks. We did a test on oxygen and I forget the other test. Then we played a little game. We pretended to be salmon. Then we went back to school. By Brittany

Our salmon field trip was very cold. We dressed very warmly. Once we got onto the first bus, we had to get off and load onto another one. When we got off that one we began walking to the river. Once we got to the river we got in a circle and started talking. When that was over, we got our containers of salmon. When we walked down to the river, we gently poured the salmon into the river. I said goodbye to my salmon. After my grandma took a picture of all of us, we walked back up for a game. Once we learned how to play, we started. I died at the bears the first time, the hawk the second time, and same the third time. I forgot to add that before the game we took oxygen and temperature tests, and shared our results. After that we loaded back onto the bus and went back to school. By Franny


About Mr. Colvin

I'm a retired elementary teacher (classroom and music) who taught at Lewis and Woodmere elementary schools in SE Portland. I like to teach, play guitar, take photos, and ride my bike.
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