Students will consider what makes invasive species a problem for forest ecosystems, will work in teams to present different methods of controlling an invasive species, and will conduct research to find out how invasive species may affect their local forest.
This is one of 9 activities that can be found in PLT’s Exploring Environmental Issues: Focus on Forests module. To get the activity, attend a training and receive PLT’s Focus on Forests secondary module. Below are some supporting resources for this activity.
Engage students in real-world applications of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education.
Try these STEM Connections for this PLT activity:
Expand your students’ learning and imaginations. Help students meet their reading goals, while building upon concepts learned in this activity, with the following children’s book recommendations:
The following tools and resources may be used to enhance the activity.
Invasive Species: Starlings
In this Encyclopedia of Life podcast called Starlings, most appropriate for grades 8-12, students will learn how humans have inadvertently put out the welcome mat for this alien species, the common starling. It’s a non-native species that is omnivorous, gregarious, adaptable, and highly successful in its adopted land. This podcast is just one in a series of podcasts called One Species at a Time.
Evolution of Organic: The Story of the Organic Movement Documentary
This 86-minute documentary film, Evolution of Organic: The Story of the Organic Movement Documentary, tells the story of the growing organic agriculture movement. It shares insight into some of the most effective organic farming techniques and the people inspiring and building the movement. The documentary is divided into four acts that can be watched one after another or separately. The fourth act concludes with hope for the future of organic farming and offers advice for young people for ways to grow organic farming and carbon farming and sequester carbon dioxide.
Teachers and students can use SeedSmart to find answers to basic questions about a site you might be wanting to restore. Some of these questions include: Which species are native here? What are the important soil characteristics I should know about? Which plants grow best in this setting? Which plants will be more likely to thrive under changing climatic conditions? The tool is compatible with any smartphone or browser and allows users to zoom in to their local ecosystem and determine the mix of native species that are best suited for a particular site. This first of its kind, all-in-one web application was developed by NatureServe, an international biodiversity conservation organization.
Skype a Scientist
The Skype a Scientist program matches more than 500 scientists with classrooms worldwide. Available for any level along the K-12 spectrum, a typical Q&A-style video chat lasts between 30 to 60 minutes and covers topics in the scientist’s area of expertise and what it’s like to be a scientist. Follow the link to browse scientists and sign up!
What Is an Invasive Species?
This U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website provides information and resources on invasive species.
Nab the Aquatic Invader
Nab the Aquatic Invader teaches students in grades 4-10 about aquatic invaders and the problems they create in the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf, and Great Lakes regions. Produced by NOAA and the Sea Grant Program, the website features games and activities in which student detectives must “nab” critters in each locale that are damaging the environment. The website also includes extensive background information on each species.
Asian Longhorned Beetle Hunt
Students in grades K-12 can participate in the USDA’s Asian Longhorned Beetle Hunt and help preserve our nation’s forests. The Asian longhorned beetle, an invasive pest, destroys trees and has been found in several states across the country. Classroom resources, including videos and identification worksheets, are available to help teach what the beetle looks like, what the signs of infestation are, and what to do if an infestation is spotted.
Global Invasive Species Database
The Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) aims to reduce threats to natural ecosystems and the native species they contain by increasing awareness of invasive alien species and of ways to prevent, control, or eradicate them. The ISSG facilitates the exchange of invasive species information across the globe and ensures the linkage between knowledge, practice, and policy so that decision making is informed. To support these efforts, ISSG has compiled a list of “100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species.” View photos and learn more about these species’ habitats, impacts, uses, and the geographical range.
The Sentinel Plant Network helps protect plants by preventing the spread of bad bugs and fungi. To help their mission, they assembled a team of “Plant Heroes” to detect and combat bugs and diseases that harm plants and ecosystem health, paying special attention to the Emerald Ash Borer, Asian Longhorned Beetle, Redbay Ambrosia Beetle, and Ramorum Blight. Using games, comics, printables, and field guides, the Plant Heroes website allows students to learn more about pest and disease identification and how to report evidence of them.
Asian Longhorned Beetle and its Host Trees
Learn about the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) through this digital publication. Produced by the USDA Forest Service and the University of Vermont, it’s a good resource for citizen science and service-learning projects monitoring for ALB.
A free app that can be downloaded onto any Apple device (try iBird Lite for Android). Use WildLab Bird to learn the basics of bird identification. This application uses audio, photographs, maps, and the process of elimination to help identify over 200 bird species. Sightings can also be entered into a national bird watching database for comparison.
A free app that can be downloaded onto Apple devices. This is a good tool for teachers and classrooms. Easily create bar, line and pie charts that you can customize, save and e-mail or upload. The charts you create can be saved using multiple color schemes and in multiple sizes. The app also works without an internet connection.
EPA’s new EnviroAtlas tool is designed to help communities and researchers make informed planning and policy decisions related to the environment and ecosystems. EnviroAtlas provides datasets and interactive tools to allow users to explore the many benefits people receive from nature, often referred to as ecosystem services. EnviroAtlas includes over 300 data layers, letting users analyze how decisions affect ecosystems and their ability to provide goods and services. Key components include:
Invasive Species 3-D Paper Models
The Regional Municipality of York has downloadable Emerald Ash Borer and Asian Longhorned Beetle 3-D paper models for teachers, adults, and children. These eye-catching 3-D models are perfect for incorporating into teacher lesson plans. To avoid any potential misconceptions, be sure to find and share the part of the template that depicts the actual adult size of these invasive species.