Fish Lift Challenge

Fish Lift Challenge

Challenge Description: 

Fish Lift Challenge


American ShadBuild a game using the Scratch programming language that educates people about the life cycle of migratory fish and the important role of the Holyoke Fishway.  Use the data collected at the Fishway to help visualize how fish use the lift.

This challenge will need a multi-generational team of game developers, data analysts and web developers.

About the Challenge:

The Fishway in Holyoke is essential to many fish including American Shad, Sea Lamprey, Atlantic Salmon and other anadromous fish that swim up the Connecticut River as they begin their annual spring migration.  However, many people are not aware of the importance of the Fishway in the life cycle of these fish and the ecosystem of the Connecticut River.  Your challenge is to develop a fun way for people to learn about these fish and the role of the Fishway.

Hundreds of thousands of fish migrate through the Fishway each year.  These fish are an important part of the Connecticut River ecosystem.  Many people enjoy fishing in the Connecticut River, for example at the popular Shad Derby. While some people visit the dam in Holyoke to learn about the Fishway, many more people are unaware of it’s existence.  

Holyoke Fishway

The Game:

Games are a useful way to engage people.  Can we use Scratch, a simple yet powerful visual programming language, to create a game that can both teach and entertain?  This project will need young people who know how to program in Scratch to build the interactive part of this challenge.  Possible gameplay could involve the player guiding a fish from the ocean, avoiding fishing lures, and predators, using the lift to get over the dam, and finding a nesting spot.  Or the player could be a fish elevator operator and try to lift as many fish over the dam as possible.  Bonus points for rare fish?


There is a lot of data collected by the biologists at the Fishway.  How can we visualize this to show how fish populations vary through the years?  Which species are thriving?  Are some declining?  Can we incorporate these visualizations into the game?  

Daily Fish Counts

Latest weekly counts and year-to-date counts

Historic fish counts, by dam, from 2000-present

Historic Annual Counts from 1965-Present

Information about fish biology and life cycles

We also have access to daily counts from 2006-20013.


Can we build a website to host the game, data visualizations, and other educational material about migratory fish?

Challenge Image: