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What is it?

The Fish Market Survey Action Project is a national citizen science data collection project in which students will learn about DNA barcoding and potential food fraud in the seafood industry.

Find out what happened when students DNA barcoded fish samples during the 2012 pilot.
Canadian students uncover cases of fish fraud through the CurioCity Fish Market Survey.

Why is this data worth collecting?

Food is an extremely important part of our lives, and more and more people are concerned about where their food comes from and what goes into their food. Food is also becoming more expensive, so consumers want to know if they are getting what they pay for. DNA barcoding is one tool that scientists can use to confirm or refute the identity of food such as beef, fish and other seafood.

Did you know? DNA barcoding is a molecular approach to species identification. It has been used as a tool for species identification in a wide array of practical applications that include ecological monitoring, verification of research organisms, as well as food authentication.

What will students do during the project?

As citizen scientists, students will be going to local grocery stores and markets to obtain small samples of fish. They will then use an app on an iPhone or iPad (GPS required) to collect information about where and when the fish was collected and how the fish was labelled (e.g., name on packaging or display). In class or at home, students will place the samples in prepared vials and the set of vials will be shipped to a DNA barcoding lab for processing and analysis.

What are the benefits of participation?

Citizen science projects such as the Fish Market Survey allow students to participate in real science and feel part of the scientific community. While doing citizen science projects, students use critical thinking skills as they grapple with issues in science that affect society and the environment. Citizen science projects benefit students of all learning styles as these types of projects require students to read, listen, work with others, do hands-on data collection, and think analytically.

What educational resources will be available to support the project?

Curriculum-aligned educator resources will be available at no cost to classes participating in the project. The educator resources will support student understanding of scientific processes in the field of genetics, including DNA extraction, Sanger Sequencing and DNA barcoding. Students will also learn about the issue of food fraud and the seafood supply chain.

What is the time commitment for the project?

The collection and preparation of the fish samples will not take more than 10-15 minutes. The lesson plans can take up to several class periods depending on how many lessons you choose to use.

Do I have to do the project at any particular time of year?

Yes. Participants of the Fall 2016 project must return samples to the LifeScanner labs no later than November 11, 2016 to receive results in December 2016. We will post information about the Spring 2017 project once it is available.

Do students have to register for CurioCity in order to participate?

No. Educators must register for CurioCity in order to receive a kit and access the educator resources, but students are not required to register for CurioCity in order to participate.

What is Let’s Talk Science?

Let’s Talk Science is an award-winning, national, charitable outreach organization. Let’s Talk Science creates and delivers unique learning programs and services that engage children, youth and educators in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). CurioCity/CurioCité is a web-based program developed by Let’s Talk Science to connect students and Educators with the STEM community, offering an interactive and reliable place for youth, ages 13-17, to explore and engage in STEM issues. For more information about Let’s Talk Science, please visit www.letstalkscience.ca.

Questions? Please send us an email at educators@explorecuriocity.org.