Based on a true science story from the book Let the River Run Silver Again by Sandy Burk and trustworthy online resources, this 3-part environmental script series shares how students helped save the American shad (fish). Hosted by student TV journalists, our free "Students Save Shad!" Readers Theater script integrates curriculum across subject lines in a memorable experience for the whole class. Complete with curriculum links for easy lesson plans and further research, this inspiring story will motivate elementary and middle school students to take action and make a difference.
TIME: about 6 1/2 minutes CAST: 8+ TONE: educational, light READABILITY: grade 4.8 (4.3 without the words "announcer" and "narrator."
Here is an excerpt from this free environmental Readers Theater script:
Announcer #1: This is Kids’ World News with Part II of this week’s top story, “Students Save Shad!”
Announcer #2: Clean the river, save the stream,
Rescue our waterways. Yea, shad!
See, I DID remember the student’s cheer! What’s up today? The Great Shad Adventure?
Announcer #1: That’s right! Part II of the video series will take us on “The Great Shad Adventure” with Nick, Julia, and others.
Announcer #2: Finally, I want to hear how the students helped save shad! Poor sad shad. Family eaten. River polluted. Childhood home blocked up by dams. Brings tears to my eyes--almost!
Announcer #1: Let’s roll the video for the REST of the story...
Announcer #2: Here comes the narrator!
Narrator #1: Nick and Julia scrambled up the steep cliff and peeked over the edge at the sparkling, swirling waters of the Potomac River. They wondered, “Were there fish in that water?” Nick stared for a minute and then exclaimed...
Nick: Wow! I can hear the roar of Great Falls up river. Have you seen Great Falls?
Julia: Yes! It’s really cool. It has so many big waterfalls and rapids. I didn’t try counting them. My dad says some crash down almost a hundred feet!
Nick: No wonder fish can’t swim past it. I guess they lay their eggs below Great Falls because their mamas couldn’t go up the river any higher.
Julia: So Great Falls feeds a nursery of baby fish!
Narrator #1: The two fourth graders had come with their Westbrook Elementary School class to help biologists in 1995 to help release almost one million baby American shad into the Potomac River.
Narrator #2: The American shad is the largest member of the herring family of fish. Unfortunately, overfishing, pollution, and dams in the rivers have hurt the shad population. They almost disappeared.
Narrator #1: Julia and Nick suddenly remembered why they were at the river and scurried down to the rest of the class by the water. Their teacher, Sandi Geddes, called to them,
Teacher: Grab your buckets of baby shad and carry them carefully down to the river. Mr. Jim Cummins, the biologist, is going to help us understand what to do.
Narrator #2: Mr. Cummins, a fish biologist, had begun a program of releasing hatchery-raised American shad above Little Falls Dam. Little Falls Dam was built above Washington D.C. to help bring water to the city, but it blocked the shad from returning to their spawning grounds.
Narrator #1: Julia and Nick grabbed their buckets of baby shad and headed toward the water. The fish were about half an inch long and wiggly.
Nick: They look like insects.
Julia: I know. But, I think they ate too much sugar because they can’t be still.
Nick: I don’t think they eat sugar. But, they sure are busy.
Julia: You can say that again.
Nick: They sure are busy.
Narrator #2: The teacher interrupted everyone’s excitement.
Teacher: Okay, class. I’m setting my bucket of baby fish down. All of you set your buckets down gently while Mr. Cummins explains things to us.
Mr. Cummins: Thank you. As you probably all know in the spring the shad used to swim up past Washington D.C. to this part of the river. Early references describe these shad migrations as a mass of molten silver flowing up the river. Do you remember what stopped them?
***Click on the PDF link below to see the full printable version of the true science script, "Students Save Shad! (Part II)," an upper elementary or middle school script.
Download the PDF "Students Save Shad! (Part II)," a free, environmental Readers Theater script perfect for schools, homeschools, environmental clubs, and families interested in protecting our environment--especially the waterways (e.g., rivers, streams, Chesapeake Bay).