Skip To Content
a fish swimming underwater

Fish ID Virtual Field Trip



Full course description

Lake Erie is home to one of the world’s largest freshwater commercial fisheries. Its fish populations are the most abundant of all the Great Lakes. In a normal year more fish are harvested for human consumption from Lake Erie than the other four Great Lakes combined. 

There are more than 100 different species of fish in Lake Erie that can be grouped into more than 20 families. Dichotomous keys, a classification tool consisting of a series of paired statements, use observable characteristics or features to identify organisms. 

In this lesson students will learn to use a dichotomous key to identify Lake Erie fish. 

Contact Hour Certificate (5)

Upon completion of this virtual field trip module, you will earn a contact hour certificate documenting 5 contact hours. 


  • Upon completion of this activity, students should be able to: 
  • Recognize external characteristics of fish. 
  • Describe ways fish differ from each other in appearance. 
  • Use a dichotomous key to identify fish. 
  • Explain why Lake Erie has high levels of biological productivity and the impact on fish diversity.

Grade Levels 4 - 8 Life Science

Time Required Approximately 1-2 class periods Alignment Ohio’s Learning Standards and Model Science Curriculum for Science  

  • Scientific Inquiry, Practice and Applications 
  • Develop and communicate descriptions, models, explanations and predictions. 

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) 

  • DCI: LS1.A: Structure and Function 
    • Plants and animals have both internal and external structures that serve various functions in growth, survival, behavior, and reproduction. 
  • CC: Patterns 
    • Observed patterns of forms and events guide organization and classification, and they prompt questions about relationships and the factors that influence them. 
  • SEP: Constructing Explanations 
    • Use evidence (e.g., measurements, observations, patterns) to construct or support an explanation or design a solution to a problem. Identify the evidence that supports particular points in an explanation.

If you have questions about the course, contact Angela Greene at

For technical assistance with the ScarletCanvas platform, including logging in and password concerns, please contact CFAES Online Outreach team at 

Please allow at least 24 hours for a reply during business hours, 72 hours over holidays and weekends. 

Ohio Sea Grant and College of Food Agricultural and Environmental Sciences logo

Sign up for this course today!