Students in the Middle School Inquiry Based Science elective have been busy studying the various zones of the ocean in preparation for their current Bycatch Project. In this project, students are designing “fishing nets” to catch “tuna” (represented by marbles), while minimizing bycatch, which is fish that they are not licensed to catch (represented by different sized beans, ping pong balls and golf balls). Each tuna they catch is valued at $500 while all the bycatch of shrimp, squid, herring, whales and dolphins decreases their profit $20-200 depending on the fish.
Students are using the engineering design process to design their nets, build prototypes and test them. They are learning how to develop Excel spreadsheets to help them keep track of their fish counts and the profit and loss they are incurring. Once they have completed their initial design, they will have opportunities to redesign and retest their nets several times.
God has given man dominion and responsibility over all the earth, which includes being responsible fishermen and protecting endangered species. The last part of this project will be for students to do research on some of the ways that actual fisherman are addressing this responsibility by innovatively designing their nets and fishing tactics to greatly reduce the bycatch!