Fish Dissection (External and Internal) Activity

Fish are amazing animals. They have very unique characteristics, compared to dissecting a rat for example. This activity/prac is quite long and is aimed at senior students (usually ran with Year 10 students). I have split it up into two parts: A lesson for an external 'dissection' and another lesson for an internal dissection. The lesson length at my school is 75 minutes and this is just enough time to complete the guided worksheets. It is best to plan to have the lessons as close together as possible as the fish need to be refrigerated in between, yet still smell pretty bad! I would recommend working outside for this activity as the smell, especially after the second lesson (internal dissection) is very strong.

You can choose how many fish you would like to have dissected in your room. All students (within pairs) could dissect the same fish, which makes it easy to point common features out to all students, or you may choose to have every second pair dissecting a different fish. This way students can easily compare and contrast their specimens towards the end of each lesson. I usually use Silver Trevally, as its quite large and inexpensive (purchased through a local fish monger), but have used smaller and more expensive fish (snapper) before to compare it to.

The worksheets guide the students though looking at the external features of the fish, which allow it to successfully survive. Features such as body, fin and mouth shape. The internal features are mostly centered on the digestive system (as its easiest to access).

Access the resource here: External Fish Dissection PDF; Internal Fish Dissection PDF

A Cephalopod Exploration Activity

Dissections are always fun! Squids are very easy to get your hands on (we normally use a supplier that services the local fish and chip shops) and cheap too!  We include this dissection in our unit on the different Phylum's found within our Oceans (Year 10 Marine Biology). It is a great tool to identify the features that make this phylum unique and some of the similarities with other phylum's. In terms of safety, it's best to have another adult on hand (as scalpels are needed). We try to undertake the dissection outside (under cover, on the deck) so save the school building from the smell!

Access the resource here: A Cephalopod Exploration PDF

Melbourne Aquarium Activity

Melbourne Aquarium is a great location for a field trip! They offer specific programs for different year levels (which have been great!) or you can plan your own day with your own activities. I have developed an activity that guides the students around the Aquarium (at their own pace), looking at all the different species in terms of eating habits, colouration and body shape. Their task is to select a fish that fits into each category and record its common and scientific name. The element of a conscience choice is the aspect that the students enjoy. I have previously used this activity with Year 10 students, but it could be used (or altered) for use with other year levels.

This activity could also be used in a variety of locations:

  • -       Other Aquariums
  • -       At a zoo (changing the organisms you want the students looking for)
  • -       In class, whilst watching a documentary

Access the resource here: Melbourne Aquarium Activity PDF



Scavenger Hunt Activity

This is a great activity for all ages. It is a scavenger hunt designed for the students to find things that fit each criteria given, take photographic evidence and present it in an interesting way.

This activity could be used in a variety of ways

  • - As a homework task (week long or over the holidays)
  • - As the start of a new Unit on the Environment (Engager)
  • - As a one-off  'outdoor lesson' 

This activity could also be used in a variety of locations:

  • - School grounds
  • - Local park / beach
  • - Fieldwork
  • - At home

Access the resource here: Scavenger Hunt Activity PDF

 Acknowledgement: Many thanks to Jill Chaplin for the development of this resource.