Activity Image
Sustainability

White sturgeon bookmarks

Create bookmarks to remind ourselves to save electricity to help preserve biodiversity and endangered species like the white sturgeon.

  • Grade 3
  • Thought Starter
  • 30 mins
  • New

Overview

Let’s find out how using less energy will help our river dinosaurs of B.C. Students will learn about the connection between energy conservation and its positive effect on biodiversity by making a bookmark with an energy-saving pledge.

What you'll need

  • White boards and markers, or scrap paper and pens 
  • “White sturgeon bookmark template” 
    • Print and cut out 1 bookmark per student

Instructions

Introduction

  1. Explain to your students that the white sturgeon are an endangered species of fish in B.C.
  2. Ask students to share ideas on how to protect the white sturgeon. Discuss that if we use less energy, we will not need to build more hydro dams, and this means more habitat protected for our river dinosaurs.
  3. Individually or in pairs, provide students with a white board and markers, or scrap paper and pens. Ask students to take turns thinking of ways they can save energy in their homes and at school, and write down their ideas. Then as a class, have students share their ideas and record them on the class board. Ways to use less energy could include putting on a sweater in the winter instead of turning up the heat, unplugging unused electronics, turning off lights and opening blinds to use natural light, taking shorter showers as energy is used to heat water, and hanging clothes instead of using the dryer. 
  4. Ask students to think of one action they want to pledge to use less energy, which in turn will help protect the white sturgeon. Explain that a pledge is like a promise. As a class, decide on 3 pledges and write them on the board. Students can choose one. Examples could be “I pledge to turn off lights” or “I pledge to take short showers” or “I pledge to turn off the TV and read a book”.
  5. Provide each student with a “White sturgeon bookmark” template. Have students write their chosen pledge in the space provided and decorate their bookmarks. 
  6. Have students take home their bookmarks, or keep them at school to remind them that we can all do our part in saving the white sturgeon.

Additional Information

  • Assess students’ ability to brainstorm and share ideas working in small groups or individually
  • Assess students’ ability to understand the connection between saving energy and protecting the white sturgeon 
  • Assess students’ creativity and commitment in developing their bookmark pledges

Modifications

Students can participate in these activities in school or at home. Students at home who do not have access to a printer can make a bookmark by cutting out a piece of paper about 6cm x 15cm, copying the white sturgeon picture and writing out their pledge.

Endangered Species

The white sturgeon dwell in the Nechako, Fraser, Kootenay and Columbia Rivers of B.C. They are prehistoric fish and have not changed much in 175 million years. Adult white sturgeon can live to 100 years, reach 6 metres in length and weigh over 600 kg. They live deep in the bottom of our rivers and except for humans, adult white sturgeons have no predators. But despite this, today in B.C. they are endangered. The following are some reasons how and why this has happened.

  • The construction of hydro dams has affected the river quality, quantity and speed of flows. As a result, the turbidity of the water decreases, making it clearer. This leads to predators eating the eggs or fry before they can grow to maturity. 
  • Over-fishing of their roe or caviar, and trophy fishing in the late 1800s nearly drove the white sturgeon to extinction. 
  • There is a decline in food sources, both for the juvenile who feed on larval insects, freshwater clams and snails, and for adults who feed on salmon and eulachon. 
  • Industrial and municipal pollution has affected water quality and concentrations of chemical contaminants like copper, zinc and heavy metals have been found in white sturgeons bodies. 

In summary loss of suitable habitat, food, and historical over-fishing has endangered these river dinosaurs. For more information check out Supporting biodiversity and B.C.'s white sturgeon.

How BC Hydro supports wildlife habitats

BC Hydro uses the power of falling water to create clean, reliable and renewable electricity. However the creation of hydro dams has had an impact on our natural environment, one species being the white sturgeon. BC Hydro, partnering with others, is researching and undertaking remedial projects to help improve habitat conditions for the white sturgeon. For example, the Columbia River Water Use Plan update from April 2020 outlines some of these studies to better understand white sturgeon spawning habitat and development. The white sturgeon conservation aquaculture program has been releasing hatchery-raised sturgeon into the Columbia River annually and with great success since 2002. 

For more information, read the following:

Other interesting facts about white sturgeon

  • White sturgeons do not start reproducing until males reach about 15, and females about 25. However when they spawn they can produce between 700,000 to three million eggs. Ideally the fish spawn in areas where the eggs can fall to murky waters at the bottom of the rivers, so they are naturally protected against predators. 
  • White sturgeons have a very low survival rate in their first year and have many predators. Survival rates increase significantly after the first year.

Indigenous Peoples

Many First Peoples honoured the white sturgeon and treated the animal as an equal, deserving of respect, not something to own, buy or sell. Teach your class about the importance of inclusion and consultation with Indigenous Peoples when setting policy and addressing issues of conservation and protection of species. For example, many BC Hydro reservoirs are being negatively impacted by off-road vehicles, illegal fishing and hunting, and littering. A program called the Guardian Watch was formed to address these issues and take action. The Guardian Watch program is a partnership between local First Nations communities, BC Hydro, and Provincial government agencies to raise awareness about cultural heritage and ecological values on BC Hydro reservoirs.

For more information, visit the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program website.

Youth can help

Electrical conservation is a key means to preventing the environmental impacts of increasing electricity demand. By using less and getting smart about our energy use, we can help preserve species, foster biodiversity and protect B.C. If we all work together, we can save our river dinosaurs!

Here are some simple tips to save energy:

1. Turn off unnecessary lights

2. Take shorter showers, preferably five minutes or less

3. Unplug unused electronics

4. Put on a sweater instead of turning up your heat

5. Hang dry your clothes instead of using the dryer

Read more power smart tips on bchydro.com.

Big Ideas

  • Learning about Indigenous Peoples nurtures multicultural awareness and respect for diversity

Grade 3 Science – Content

  • Biodiversity in the local environment
  • Energy is needed for life: producers, consumers, food chains
  • Major local landforms

Grade 3 Science - Curricular competencies

Question and predict
  • Demonstrate curiosity about the natural world
Process and analyze
  • Experience and interpret the local environment
Evaluate
  • Identify some simple environmental implications of their own and others’ actions

Grade 3 Art Education– Content

  • Image development strategies
  • Personal and collective responsibility associated with creating, experiencing, or sharing in a safe learning environment

Grade 3 Art Education – Curricular competencies

Exploring and creating
  • Create artistic works as an individual, using ideas inspired by imagination and purposeful play
Reasoning and reflecting
  • Reflect on creative processes and make connections to personal experiences


This activity is part of the lesson

Biodiversity and white sturgeon in B.C.

View Lesson
Lesson Biodiversity and white sturgeon in B.C. support image

Join the Power Smart for Schools community to access:

  • Email newsletter to keep you up-to-date
  • Special events and contests with great prizes
  • Premium, time-limited education resources
  • Dashboard to organize and save your favourite activities and lessons
Sign up