Thirteen Ed Online
Cool Careers
Hot Topics
Class Projects
Glossary
Resources
sitemap
What's Up in the Environment?
overview | PROCEDURES

  Invasive Species


Step 1 - State the Problem
Step 2 - Research, and Hypothesize or Predict
Step 3 - Plan Experiment and Gather Data
Step 4 - Analyze the Data and Make a Conclusion
Step 5 - Take Action
Step 6 - Assessment



Step 1 - State the ProblemMore information about this step

Identify the problem in your community

If possible, take students on a nature walk during which they observe the kinds of plants they see. Ask them, is there an abundance of any particular kind of plant? How diverse are the species that they see?

Once back in the classroom, follow up with a little background research about the problem of invasive species. How does it impact ecosystems? Have students watch the WHAT'S UP IN THE ENVIRONMENT video, read through the Hot Topics LAND page, and use other Web sites listed below to find the answers.

Resources for step 1

Materials needed

  • Access to the Internet on at least one computer (optional)
  • WHAT'S UP IN THE ENVIRONMENT video (optional)
  • Paper and pencil to record plants during the nature walk

Bookmark these Web sites for student research

  • Invasive Species
    http://www.invasivespecies.gov/
    This site is the links to Federal efforts on invasive species. Students can link to sites
    that tell about the impacts of invasive species and the Federal government's
    response. They can also read select species profiles and find links to agencies and
    organizations dealing with invasive species issues.

Back to top

Step 2 - Research, and Hypothesize or PredictMore information about this step

Students should dig deeper to understand the impact invasive species have on the environment. Have them use the Internet, the library, and local wildlife organizations or parks departments to research the following questions:

  • What plants were common in your area a hundred years ago?

  • What are the populations of these plants like today?

Hypothesis

Based on the history of plant life in their community, and their observations during the plant walk, have students focus on a particular species that they think may be invasive and harmful. Describe why they think it may be a harmful invasive species. Different student groups should try to select different species to test.

Resources for step 2

Bookmark these Web sites for student research

  • Invasive Species
    http://www.invasivespecies.gov/
    This site is the links to Federal efforts on invasive species. Students can link to sites that tell about the impacts of invasive species and the Federal government's response. They can also read select species profiles and find links to agencies and organizations dealing with invasive species issues.

  • Plants Database
    http://plants.usda.gov/
    Students can use this site to search for information using specific plant names. They can also read state reports about invasive plants as well as link to additional resources.
Back to top

Step 3 - Plan Experiment and Gather DataMore information about this step

Do a quadrant study by visiting a local park, farm, or schoolyard to see whether the species has affected the area.

Quadrant study

Mark off a square meter section of land or wetland and take a census of all the plants and animals within the area. Assign each student to do a census of a different animal or plant. Write down the name and number of each species they find in their marked-off area. Encourage them to make notes, take pictures, draw diagrams of all the plants and animals they find—even the ones they think they can identify. They should collect the information noting the names of the plants and animals, and characteristics of each, including whether they are native, non-native, or invasive.

Then, try to find a local place that has not been affected by the invader, or a place where conservationists have worked to remove the invader. Ask students to mark off the same size section of land and do another census of plants and animals. Make sure the two areas are similar—urban, rural, suburban, or wilderness.

Data collection

As students do their census, they may come across plants or animals they can't identify. Encourage them to make notes, take pictures, draw diagrams of all the plants they find—even the ones they think they can identify. They should collect the information noting the names of the plants, characteristics of each plant including whether the plant is native, non-native or invasive.

To get a more accurate picture of whether a harmful invasive species exists, you may want to collect data from a wider area. To do so, get other classes or schools involved in the data collection by registering your project on Schoolhouse.com (see listing below).

Throughout the project, ask students to document what they are doing using records, notes, photos, videos, and/or audio recordings, etc. that will later be used to document the project.

Resources for step 3

Materials needed

  • Excel or graph and chart paper
  • Instructions for a quadrant study
  • Field guide (see Web site listed below for a free downloadable guide)
  • For data collection/field documentation: video camera; camera; tape recorder; or paper and colored pencils.
  • To collect field samples: spades, plastic bags, clippers

Teacher tool Web sites

  • Global Schoolhouse Internet Project Registry Page
    http://globalschoolhouse.org/pr/index.html
    This is site allows you to either post a request for other classrooms to collaborate with you, or you can search existing projects to see if your data collection is already being done!

Bookmark these Web sites for student research

  • Wildlife Invasive Species Program
    http://tncweeds.ucdavis.edu/worst.html
    Click on the interactive map to find the invasive species in your community. Then, surf the site to find out more information on invasive species and what can be done to control them.

  • Plants Database
    http://plants.usda.gov/
    Students can use this site to search for information using specific plant names. They can also read state reports about invasive plants as well as link to additional resources.

  • Studying a Real Prairie
    http://www-ed.fnal.gov/ntep/f98/projects/fnal/ student/data.shtml
    In order to do this assignment, students will need to do a quadrant study. This site provides information on how to do a quadrant study and explains how a class used a quadrant study to analyze a prairie.

  • Ecoworld
    www.ecoworld.com
    This site helps identify the plants. It also has information about the local plants and trees.

Back to top

Step 4 - Analyze the Data and Make a Conclusion  More information about this step

Organize data

Have students compile the results of their first census in a graph. The graph should show all the different species of plants and animals, and the percentage of which are affected by the invasive species. Then, they should make a chart or a graph for the second site.

Analyze data ­ create a fact sheet

Students should compare and analyze the two charts or graphs to answer these
questions:

  • Are there any similarities or differences?

  • What could be some reasons for the differences or similarities?

  • How does your research with wildlife organizations (in step 2) support or not support your ideas?
Students should analyze the results of their experiment by reviewing their charts or graphs, their background information, and their research about the history of local plant species. Once complete have students answer the following:
  • Was your chosen species actually an invasive species? How do you know?

  • What conclusions can students make about the impact of invasive species on the local environment?
Have them use all their information and analysis to put together the first part of a pamphlet describing their findings. Groups of students can be responsible for writing different sections of the pamphlet. For help writing the pamphlet or other community action publications, direct students to the National Wildlife Federation Web site.

Resources for step 4

Materials needed

  • Excel or chart and graph paper

Bookmark these Web sites for student research

  • National Wildlife Federation Web site
    http://www.nwf.org/action/howtos/
    This site gives useful information about how to write fact sheets and organize community groups to take action.
Back to top

Step 5 - Take Action

Have students work together as a class to plan an outdoor event to help stop invasive species that were found by eradicating them and replanting with native plants. Make sure to consult local environmental organizations to ensure that the methods used will be effective on a permanent basis, and will destroy only the harmful species.

Once planning is complete, add to and distribute the invasive species eradication pamphlet to local government officials, media, schools, and environmental groups. The pamphlets should include invitations to help in a major weed-whacking project! Plan a day for volunteers to come and help pull out and destroy invasive species from a local park, nature center, or natural preserve.

Resources for step 5

Materials needed

  • For the pamphlet: either word processing, graphics, and presentation software such as Word Perfect, Quark, or PowerPoint; or drawing paper and markers

Bookmark these Web sites for student research

  • National Wildlife Federation Web site
    http://www.nwf.org/action/howtos/
    This site gives useful information about how to write fact sheets and organize community groups to take action.


Back to top

Step 6 - Assessment

Throughout the project, encourage students to take pictures, write articles, and interview environmentalists. Once the entire project is complete, have students create an illustrated article, scrapbook, Web site, or video that includes the following elements:

  • Summary of project steps and what was learned in each step from beginning to end.
    This part should include all the documents created in the previous steps, as well as
    any photos, video or audio clips, e-mails, or letters from people in the field, etc.

  • A short analysis of what worked or didn't work in this project, and why.

  • A description of what you might change or improve upon for next time.

  • A reflection piece that notes what it felt like to undertake this project.

If you choose to do a project that can be posted on the Web, send it to us and we'll post it on the WHAT'S UP IN THE ENVIRONMENT Web site! Make sure to consult our submission guidelines for instructions on how to get your project posted on our site.

If possible, return to your weed-whacking project site at a later date to see how the native plants and wildlife are doing, and whether the invasive species has returned. Analyze the new environment you helped promote and see how you made a difference! Send us your results with a Web site update.

Resources for step 6

Materials needed

  • Either word processing and graphics software such as Word Perfect and Quark, or PowerPoint; or drawing paper and markers

Teacher tool Web sites

Back to Overview page




Ed Home Educators Students Parents Caregivers Thirteen Ed Online