How Is the Circulation and Behavior of a Fish Effected by Toxins in Its Environment?

How Is the Circulation and Behavior of a Fish Effected by Toxins in Its Environment?

Submitted by: Linda Clipp
School: Fair Oaks Elementary


This lesson will be written as a science experiment, using the 6 steps of the scientific method. Students will observe a goldfish in its clean water environment for 1 minute. After seeing its relaxed movements, the students will observe its healthy red corpuscles by using the proscope. The goldfish will be wrapped in clean cotton gauze, on a clear glass plate, while the tail is visible. Close video will be taken of the flow of red corpuscles moving toward and away from the tail. Observations will be recorded by students. Then, the goldfish will be placed in water that has nicotine added. Students will observe its erratic behavior and increased swimming motions for 1 minute. Once again, the goldfish will be placed on the glass plate, and video will be taken using the proscope to observe the flow of red corpuscles. Students will record the results, noting the increased flow of the red corpuscles toward and away from the tail.
To extend observations to other types of fish, a guppy living in clean water will be observed. Its swim rotations and relaxed behavior will be recorded for 1 minute. Then 8 drops of nicotine solution will be added to its water. Students will observe the immediate response of the guppy, counting the number of swim rotations and erratic behavior, including its trembling-like motions of its tail. Again, observations will be made for a 1 minute duration. Conclusions will be made for both fish, as to the effects of nicotine solution to behavior and circulation.

TIPC Ratings

The students utilize websites to research the science terms used in the experiment. Understanding and application are encouraged as the teacher discusses the meaning of each term in preparation for the experiment. Students add input as they hypothesize what will happen to the fish circulation. Information from all listed sites is shared and compared among students to arrive at the best understanding for each term.

The students discuss the observations and apply terms from the lesson, as well as their studies of the ecosystems and cell structure/functions. Questions are asked as observations are made and applied to other factors in the ecosytem, such as limiting factors, and effects on the food chain and human beings.

The students raise levels of thinking from basic harm to the fish in doing the experiment, to harmful effects of chemicals in the water of natural ecosystems. Questions are developed concerning the effect on the red corpuscles and how the color may change. Also, the students quickly apply their observations of the higher stress level of the fish, to the effects on the environment, and future baby fish.

The students will hypothesize what will happen when the nicotine solution is added. Students immediately apply the results of the nicotine to themselves, stating that they will “never smoke cigarettes or do drugs!”, while others are determined to help their parents stop smoking. The students are highly engaged in the activities, from the basic observations, to illustrations and graphing of results. Creativity in drawings and narrated interviews demonstrates how the students are highly task oriented to add their own innovative ideas and input.

Student Artifact

Student Graph

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  • Lesson Plan
  • Scientific Method/Graph

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