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Fins & Scales: An Introduction to Bony Fish—A Marine Science Project Book for 4-H Intermediate Members1

Karen Blyler 2

The full version of this Project Guide for 4-H Intermediate Members is available to view in PDF format here. (For leaders, the Project Guide for 4-H Leaders and Educators is available here.)

The following text has been excerpted from the PDF version of the Intermediate Members document.

Overview of the Project

What Will You Learn?

In this project you will learn about fish and their adaptations for living in water.

Figure 1. Fish have special adaptations that help them survive in water.
Figure 1.  Fish have special adaptations that help them survive in water.
Credit: Photos in this publication taken by Karen Blyler and many 4-H members

Your Project Goals

Goal 1. Complete each of the following sections of your Project Book.

A. What is a fish?

B. How do fins help a fish?

C. How does body shape help a fish?

D. How does body color help a fish?

E. Why do fish have different mouths?

F. Why do fish have scales?

G. How can we determine a fish's age?

Goal 2. Participate in a fish-related learning experience, such as a trip to an aquarium for an education program, a club program on fish, a fishing trip, the 4-H Marine Ecology Event, or visiting a marine lab where fish research takes place!

Goal 3. Help another person through a fish-related activity by teaching or demonstrating the activity.

Goal 4. Share and/or demonstrate what you learned in the project to another group.

What Will You Need to Complete the Project?

  1. Access to the Internet so you can conduct some research! There are resources and websites listed at the end of your Project book.

  2. A real fish to observe and gather information on! You can obtain a real fish by going fishing, catching a fish in a net along a shoreline, buying a fish at a seafood market (mullet, tilapia, and grunts are OK), or going to an aquarium store or public aquarium and selecting a fish to observe. If you cannot obtain a real fish, select a specific fish from a book or research the Internet for a fish to use in your project.

  3. A microscope (or strong magnifier) for looking at fish scales and fish ear bones more closely. There is a "Fins and Scales" support kit available that contains a small magnifier you can use. Ask your leader about this, or check with your science teacher and see if your school has a microscope that you can use.

Learn More

To access all the information and activities available in the Record Book, refer to the PDF version of this document here.


1. This document is 4H354, one of a series of the 4-H Youth Development Program, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date June 1994. Revised October 2014. Reviewed October 2017. Visit the EDIS website at
2. Karen Blyler, 4-H state science coordinator; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611. Original version written by Ben Crenshaw, 4-H marine education specialist; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #4H354

Date: 1/25/2018


    • Critical Issue: Youth


    • Sarah Hensley