–Designed for the NYC and NYC Watersheds Trout in the Classroom program
- To test and reinforce student knowledge about trout predators and prey
- To get students active and enthusiastic
Students pretend to be various aquatic predators and prey species in a game of group tag with multiple rounds. It makes students think quickly about what eat trout and what trout eat during their various life stages. This can be tailored to any age (elementary through middle school) depending on the sophistication of the species chosen.
- Paper or cardboard signs (at least 8/5 x 11”) with the following words: TROUT, FRY, OTTER, MAYFLY, HUMANS, BACTERIA, WATER SCORPION, STONEFLY, MIDGE, HERON, SMALLMOUTH BASS (feel free to substitute or add any other aquatic species in your area or that you have studied). Another option is to have pictures of the various species to be considered.
- Two 15’ lengths of rope or some other means to define the safe zones
Trout live in a complex food web in their aquatic environment. In a trout stream, just like most ecosystems, most animals spend most of their time chasing prey or fleeing predators. A trout is no different, when in the fry stage it is prey to any number of species including larger trout, minnows, birds and water scorpions. When adult, a trout is a predator of minnows, smaller trout, insects and other macroinvertebrates. An adult trout is still the prey of herons and otters. For the purposes of this game, bacteria are “predators” of anything in that they decompose all living matter when they die. Also for the purposes of this game, humans are “predators” of trout and fry.
- Define two parallel safe zones approximately 15 yards apart (like football end zones)
- Split the group into two equal teams.
- Have the teams come to the center of the playing field facing each other in two rough lines about five feet apart.
- On the count of three, hold up two signs showing each team’s species for that round. Based on the signs, members of the “predator” team try to chase and catch members of the “prey” team. Meanwhile, members of the “prey” team have to run back to their own safe zone.
- Members of the “prey” team that were caught become members of the “predator” team.
- Go back to step (3) and repeat until exhausted.
- Tip #1 – Review the predator-relationships before the game so it is fresh in the students’ minds.
- Tip #2a – Always choose “trout” or “fry” as one of the species.
- Tip #2b—Or don’t, for advanced food web and ecosystem studies.
- Tip #3 – “Humans” and “bacteria” eat everything.
- Tip #4 – Make sure the signs are visible to both teams when your reveal them at the start of each round.
- Tip #5 – Establish the “tagging” rules so that nobody gets hurt during an overenthusiastic tag.
- Tip #6 – If one team is significantly smaller than the other, make them the predators for a couple of rounds to extend the game indefinitely.
The kids’ knowledge of predator-prey relationships in a trout stream becomes quickly apparent by how quickly and confidently they react during the Trout Tag game. You could also do a quick pre- and post- activity quiz where the students either write down all the predator and prey relationships they can think of or identify correct relationships in a pre-written quiz.