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High School Lesson Plan: Grades 9-12

These high school lessons (9-12) are intended to be an introduction to the anatomy of a trout. Students will dissect a trout and learn about the different body systems and organ functions. Students will understand whirling disease and its effects on the trout population. Students will learn how to collect and analyze data. Students will be placed in the role of scientists as they investigate and observe natural phenomena. Students will acquire and apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Activity One: Fish Dissection

  • Students will observe the external features of the trout.
  • Students will observe the scales, rays and coloring.
  • Students will identify mouth, fins, gills, eyes, and nostrils.
  • Students will complete the worksheet, identifying the external parts of the trout.
  • Students will dissect a fish and study the internal anatomy of a trout.
  • Students will draw a diagram of the internal fish and label the systems (reproductive, digestive, etc.) and the organs.
  • Students will present their diagram and explain the function of each organ.

Activity Two: Transmitter Fish

  • Students will research the history of radio transmitters as a scientific tool.
  • Students will watch wildlife biologists install a radio transmitter into a bull trout.
  • Students will create a Digital Video of this process.
  • Students will make a QuickTime movie of this video.
  • Students will create web pages documenting the radio transmitter process
  • Students will incorporate the QuickTime movie into the web page.
  • Students will maintain a web page that documents the movement of their adopted trout.

Activity Three: Life Cycles

  • Students will be introduced to the life cycle of the bull or cutthroat trout to students.
  • Students will illustrate the life cycle of the bull or cutthroat trout.
  • Students will learn about the life cycle of the Tubifex Worm.
  • Students will study the parasite Myxobolus cerebralis.

Activity Four: Whirled War Won

Copyright© Jim Schulz

  • Students will study how Whirling Disease is spread to trout.
  • Students will study the effects of Whirling Disease on Trout.
  • Students will research what is being done to control the spread of Whirling Disease.
  • Students will understand how the whirling disease organism physically affects fish.
  • Students will understand how the whirling disease organism affects the life cycle of the fish.
  • Students will determine if bull trout and cutthroat trout of the Blackfoot Rive could be affected by Whirling Disease.
  • Students will determine if there are any actions to take in order to protect the fish population of the Blackfoot.
  • Students will design a brochure for fishermen, explaining Whirling Disease and ways to prevent its spread.

Activity Five: Adopt-A-Trout

  • Students will adopt one of the radio transmitter trout from the Blackfoot River.
  • Students will use the Internet to follow the progress their trout makes up the Blackfoot River.
  • Students will follow the progress their trout by marking it on a classroom map.
  • Students will create a graph that shows the miles their trout travels each day.
  • Students will speculate why trout have different progress on different days, after monitoring the progress of their trout.

Extension Activities

  • Blue Mackerel Dissection—This page on the Australia Museum Fish Site has graphic pictures of an actual blue mackerel dissection. It also has a page about fish scales and a tour of the fish exhibit.
  • Salmon Dissection—This page by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game contains background information on dissecting a salmon. There are handouts of fish internal and external parts.
  • Fish Dissection—This site outlines the steps in dissecting a fish.
  • Lake Trout
  • Whirled War Won—This is a problem-based learning unit by Jim Schulz on Whirling Disease.
  • Whirling Disease and Colorado Trout—This page gives background on Whirling Disease and its effects on trout.


  • Investigate and evaluate science studies and identify strengths and weaknesses in experimental design. (Science Activity 4)
  • Identify and describe key factors (technology, competitiveness, world events, etc.) that affect the development and acceptance of scientific thought. (Science Activities 2 & 4)
  • Model the ongoing, collaborative scientific process of gathering and evaluating information (e.g., assess evidence for and against theories, look for patterns, devise and retest different models). (Science Activity 4)
  • Give examples of scientific discoveries and describe the interrelationship between technological advances and scientific understanding. (Science Activity 4)
  • Use a variety of reading strategies to comprehend complex material, including self-correcting, re-reading, using context, and adjusting rate. (Reading Activities 1, 3 & 4)
  • Ask questions, check predictions, summarize, and reflect on information to monitor progress while taking responsibility for directing one's own reading. (Reading Activities 1, 3 & 4)
  • Locate, read, analyze, and interpret material to investigate a question, topic, or issue (e.g., reference, material, pamphlets, book excerpts, articles, letters, and electronic information. (Reading Activities 3 & 4)
  • Apply conventions of standard written English (e.g., spelling, punctuation, usage) appropriate for grade level and purpose. (Writing Activity 2)
  • Find, evaluate, and use a variety of technologies and information sources. (Writing Activities 2 & 4)
  • Share information in appropriate ways for intended audiences. (Writing Activity 4)
  • Apply the elements of line, shape, form, color, space, value and texture to compose works of art and the principles of design-pattern, balance, contrast, rhythm, proportion, economy, movement, dominance.. (Art Activity 1)
  • Use and enhance an established repertoire of skills and procedures as needed to operate various technologies. (Technology Activities 2 & 4)
  • Integrate technology in designing, developing, presenting and managing projects. (Technology Activities 2 & 4)

Materials and Preparation

  • A fresh, whole trout
  • Dissecting scissors
  • Scalpel or a very sharp thin flexible knife
  • Tweezers
  • Newspapers
  • Paper towels
  • Dissecting pan
  • Magnifying glass
  • Microscope (optional)
  • Student worksheets