Plenty of guts, plenty of glory for Pioneer students
With plenty of “Whoa!” and a touch of “Ew!,” children from Quincy’s Pioneer Elementary learned the innards and outs of being a salmon.
The Grant County PUD’s Tiffany Bishop showed up at the school with both kinds of dead adult salmon: male and female and sliced them open right in front of both kinds of kindergartners: The wide-eyed and the frowny-faced.
Students learned about the size of a salmon’s brain, heart, kidneys, liver, gall bladder and spleen; the location of their gills, eyes, mouth, tongue and reproductive organs, the size of a female fish as opposed to a male fish, the look of a hatchery fish as opposed to a wild fish, and, as always, the life cycle of a salmon.
All part of the Salmon in the Classroom program that teaches children from all over NCW about their fishy friends in the river.
“The spots on their skin protect the salmon from animals that want to eat salmon,” Bishop told the students. Then she asked the students if they would like to eat salmon. She was met with a resounding no.
“I do,” Bishop said. “They are yummy.”
Yummy wasn’t much in the minds of the students, particularly when they got a look at the bloody stuff.
“Ewwwwww!” students shouted when Bishop handled the spleen.
“Not ‘Ewww,’” she replied. “Cool.”
And when Bishop removed the salmon’s gills, she prefaced it by saying that it was one of the favorite parts of one of the teachers at PES.
“But not mine,” a child yelled.
Students chose one hand to poke salmon body parts, and while some poked, some passed, choosing instead to watch the dead salmon and then their classmate race to the bathroom to wash, clasping their poking hand tightly against their other hand.
Still, the children’s curiosity stood in full bloom, even during the presentation that occurred right after lunchtime, with Bishop fielding questions about swimming, cooking, T-Rexes, and the fish, comparing the location and size of some organs on the salmon and on the children themselves .
“How big is your brain? Way big,” Bishop told the children. “Now you look at your pinky finger. The very tip of your pinky, that’s about as big as a fish’s brain.”
Later, it was the turn of another body part. “Touch that tongue,” Bishop said. “It’s way different than yours.”
Indeed – a salmon’s tongue has teeth, a factoid that by itself elicited some of the loudest “ewws” of the day, particularly from students hesitant to touch.
“You can do it,” Bishop said, before rewarding a student’s daring digits with a “Good job! But don’t wipe it off on your shirt.”
By Sebastian Moraga, firstname.lastname@example.org