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Lesson Plans
Battlefield Earth
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials

Prep for Teachers

Before teaching this lesson, make certain that all of your Web sites are bookmarked on all of the computers in your classroom and that all of the necessary links are still valid and running. CUE your videotape to the first segment you are going to use in the Learning Activity. Make sure that each lab section has all of the necessary components already in place for the start of the lesson. Duplicate the worksheet and packet for each student.

When using media, provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, a specific task to complete or information to identify during or after viewing a video segment, Web site, or other multimedia element.

CUE the videotape for the first FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION right at the beginning of the tape.

Introductory Activities: Setting the Stage

Step 1

Explain to your students that one of the most serious threats to the natural communities of plants and animals today is the introduction of non-native plants and species by humans. When certain non-native or exotic plant species is allowed to invade a natural native plant population, the results can be devastating for the natives. Often natural diseases or predators are not brought with the plants to their new homes, thus causing a great growth in population. This can lead to a decrease in native plant and animal diversity in a region as these uncontrolled species increase in number. The non-native often out-competes native in obtaining the essential requirements for growth.

This decrease in diversity affects many different food chains and may lead to a monoculture of plants and animals where once there was a variety. Loss of endemic or native species may mean loss of valuable genetic material, which could someday provide valuable medicines or foods. Loss of diversity makes our world a little less interesting and less beautiful.

The following game will introduce your students to the dilemma of the deadly invaders.

Step 2: Before Play Begins

Designate a playing area by placing cones at edges/corners of the playing field. (30' x 60' area works well for 20 students.)

Scatter playing chips throughout the area (each different colored chip represents a different need for a plant or animal to survive. (White = Shelter/Space, Red = Food/Minerals, Blue = Water)

Be sure to provide enough chips so each player may collect one chip of each color during the first round in order to survive.

Step 3: Round One

All players will be native to the specific area. Everyone will line up along the edges of the playing field at the start of each round. At the sound of the whistle, players will enter the playing field, collect one of the three different colored chips and return to the edge of the playing field. After all of the students have returned to the sideline, they return to the playing field and collect another chip of a different color. Once again, they go to the sideline, returning a third time for the third colored chip.

After a player has collected all three colored chips, he or she moves to the sidelines to wait for the signal to end the round. All players should survive the first round.

Step 4: Round Two

This round will be played the same as Round One, but will now include non-native species. Two players wearing colored armbands represent a non-native species. The non-native species are more aggressive and will be allowed to collect two chips per trip into the playing field. The non-native will also be allowed to return to the playing field as often as they are able but must collect three different colors in order to survive. The native species will be considered a survivor if he or she collects three different colored chips as they had done in Round One.

Sound the whistle to end Round 2. Identify the survivors. Evaluate by comparing population size and impact the non-native had on the natives.

Step 5: Round Three

Native species that did not survive Round Two become non-native for this round. Give each new non-native an armband. Continue to play Round Three just like Round Two.

At the end of Round Three, most, if not all, of the native population should not survive. Evaluate as in Round Two.

After Round Three, discuss with your students what they observed as they were playing the game. As a class, have them begin to figure out how and why those students who played as the initial non-native species were not only able to survive, but to actually take over the entire playing field.

Learning Activities

Step 1

Insert Africa: Episode #6: "Restless Waters," into your VCR. Tape should already be CUED to the beginning of the tape where there is a boat on the water and you hear, "In the dark shadow of a new moon." Distribute the FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION Worksheet. (See Student Materials.)

Step 2

Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to listen for and record why fishing at night gives Charles and his crew an added advantage. What secret weapon do Charles and his crew use to catch fish on Lake Victoria? PLAY the videotape. PAUSE the tape after the narrator says, "And it’s fish that brings Charles and his crew to these dark waters." Allow students time to record their answers on their FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION Worksheet, then CHECK for comprehension. Ask students to share their answers. (Light is Charles’ secret weapon. Since it is dark out, the insects are more prone to gather around the brightest source of light, those being the lanterns. Charles and his crew float out onto the water as the insects gather around the lanterns, and the fish begin to gather inside the fishing nets to feed upon the abundance of insects circling around the lights.)

As your students are recording their information, FAST FORWARD the videotape until you see a man bent over throwing dried fish out in front of him and you hear, "The abundance of Lake Victoria once seemed inexhaustible."

Step 3

Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to listen for and record three reasons that Lake Victoria's resources are being depleted. PAUSE the videotape when you hear, "The fish are disappearing before his eyes," and see a hawk swoop to steal some dried fish. Allow students time to record their response, then CHECK for comprehension. Why are the resources being depleted? (Contamination, pollution, and over fishing have taken their toll on the lake.)

FAST FORWARD the videotape to ice being thrown on a fish head right after you see Charles with the subtitle, "That's why I am looking for a new business – one with better profits."

Provide your students with the next FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to listen for when the first time was that fish population plummeted. What did the British government do to fix this problem? Was their remedy one that helped or hindered the Lake? PLAY the tape, and PAUSE after the narrator says, "It may be the greatest mass extinction of its time." Allow time for students to record their responses. If it seems that students were not able to understand all of the information, REWIND the tape and REPLAY that segment. After students seem to have gathered all of the information, CHECK for comprehension. When did the fish population first plummet? (1950.) What did the British government do to fix the problem? (The British Government introduced the Nile Perch into Lake Victoria in order to bolster its fish population.) Did it help or hinder the lake? (The Nile Perch can grow to weigh over 200 pounds and measure as long as 6 Feet in length. For a period of time the tactic seemed to help the lake’s fishing industry. However, the Nile Perch has a voracious appetite and it wiped out half of the native species of fish in the lake. To date it is considered one of the greatest cases of mass extinction.)

Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to listen for reasons the Nile Perch might be next on that list. RESUME the video. PAUSE the video at the visual CUE of a Nile Perch being filleted as the narrator says, "They are stripping the lake of its fish." Allow students time to record their responses, then CHECK for comprehension. Why might the Nile perch be next? (Environmental issues, worldwide demand, and large industrial fish boats are the main causes for the demise of the Nile Perch in Lake Victoria.)

Step 4

Break your students into small collaborative groups, and on a transparency write the term, "Non-native Invasive Species." Ask your students to write a definition of this term. Provide your students with about five minutes of time to come up with an explanation. Be sure to circulate from group to group in order to get a feel for where your students are.

Have each group write their explanation or definition of Non-native Invasive Species on chart paper and post it on the wall for each group to share with their classmates.

After each group has shared their explanation/definition, have the class as a whole decide which explanation/definition they like the best, or have them pick bits and pieces from each group’s work to come up with one working definition for the whole class.

Once the students have established a context for what they believe is the definition for non-native/invasive species, instruct them to go to the Web site dealing with President Clinton's Executive Order #13112 of February 3, 1999 on Invasive Species

Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to read the section of the order that deals with definitions and record the Federal Definitions for the following terms on their FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION Worksheet:

Alien Species




Invasive Species

Native Species


After students have time to record their definitions, CHECK for comprehension. Ask students to explain the terms.

This activity is intended to help students gain an understanding of terms and terminology that they will be reading, hearing, and saying throughout the course of this lesson. Lead the students in a discussion about these terms to evaluate their current knowledge base and to assess any prior knowledge that may enhance or detract from this learning experience.

After examining President Clinton's Executive Order #13112 of February 3, 1999 on Invasive Species, students should be instructed to go to the hyperlink for the Earth Crash Earth Spirit Web site at

Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to read all four articles that deal with ecological problems impacting Lake Victoria. Have your students write a one-paragraph synopsis on each article, focusing on the problem facing Lake Victoria, how it was introduced, who introduced it, and what major impact it has on the Lake. Explain to the students that if they look close enough at each article, they will see that in each specific instance there is one major culprit involved. If they read each article carefully, students should be able to figure out that mankind is at the root of each of the problems facing Lake Victoria.

After students have viewed both Web sites and recorded their answers to the FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION questions posed, lead your class in a carefully guided discussion about what they have read and seen so far in this lesson. Ask them if human beings could be considered a non-native invasive species and, if so, have them cite specific examples.

After your class has discussed the possibility of mankind being considered a non-native invasive species, explain to them that we not only can cause these problems, but also remedy these problems before they get out of hand.

Step 5: Round Four - Deadly Invaders Continued

Have your students return to the playing field you set up for the Introductory Activity. Have them don the same armbands that they had on at the end of Round Three.

This time select three players to represent various population controls for non-native species and give them different colored armbands to distinguish them from the rest of the group. These students will act as combatants against the non-native species.

This time the population controls will join Round Four and begin removing non-native plants with a ball, which they will, gently tossed and aimed below the waist. After a non-native is hit, he or she returns the gathered chips to the playing area and then moves to the sideline to remove the armband. The player immediately returns to the game as a native species. Natives are NOT tagged by the population controls. After all chips have been collected, identify the survivors (players with a red, blue, and white chip). Evaluate the effect population controls have on the non-native and native populations.

Step 6: Round Five

Introduce more population controls and repeat Round Four if needed. Upon completion of Round Four (or Round Five), discuss with your students the following items:
What do non-native species compete with native species for?

What can non-native species do to populations of native species? How?

What can be done to control non-native species?

Would passing laws to prevent sale of non-native species that mate cause a threat to an area if they escape be a good idea? Why or why not?

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of introducing natural but non-native predators and disease to an area to help eliminate the non-native species.

Discuss the effects herbicides and chemicals may have on the bio-diversity of an area if used to eliminate non-native species.

Cross-Curricilar Extensions

For the Culminating Activity, there are three parts. Students will read a news release on the Web and complete the Scavenger Hunt Worksheet (see Student Materials) based on the information found there. Then students will conduct a Web Quest (see Student Materials for the Web Quest Guide), visiting several Web sites to gather and compare information. Finally, students will create a multimedia presentation explaining the evidence of invasive species causing environmental problems in the United States. (A Sample Rubric for the multimedia presentation is available in Student Materials.) A more comprehensive list of resources is available if you would like to extend the lesson into a unit that involves more diversified research. That list is available at .

Step 1

Tell students to log onto President Clinton's News Release regarding non-native invasive species

Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to compare what they learned about Lake Victoria to environmental concerns in the United States. To help students gather needed information, distribute the Scavenger Hunt Worksheet (see Student Materials). As they gather the scavenger hunt information, they will begin to make the comparison of Lake Victoria to the U.S.

After students have completed the Scavenger Hunt Worksheet, discuss their answers until they seem to be comfortable with the language and issues addressed.

Step 2: "Alien Invaders" Web Quest

Explain to students that they will now conduct a guided research project called a Web Quest. There are three sections to the research, and then they will compile all of the information they gathered into a multimedia project. Distribute the Web Quest Guide. The Web Quest Guide is designed into the three sections of the research. The information students are responsible for finding is listed, then the Web sites they should visit follow. Students can find all of the information needed to complete the Quest on those Web sites.


A. Research at least 4 invasive species listed at right using the Web sites below.

B. Analyze how each invasive species affects the food web in its ecosystem.

C. Describe the function each invasive species plays in its biome.

D. Explain how the number and types of organisms an ecosystem can support is affected by each invasive species.

Who Are They? "America's Least Wanted" The Dirty Dozen

Some Non-indigenous Aquatic Species of Concern

Exotic Introductions

Scientific American: Explore! Costly Interlopers

Environment News: Alien Species Cost U.S. $123 Billion a Year


Using the following Web site, compare how different invasive species get into non-native ecosystems.

How Do They Get Here? Pathways of Invasion


Using the following Web site, propose ways people can help stop the introduction of invasive species into non-native ecosystems.

What Can We Do to Help: Problems with Release of Exotic Fish


Show Your Stuff
Prepare a multimedia presentation (such as PowerPoint) for the Invasive Species Council that uses convincing evidence supported by real data. Include the following elements:

1. Clearly state your position on the issue

2. Use examples and evidence you found in your research to persuade your audience

3. Include a bibliography of sources used

4. Anticipate and address audience concerns and counter-arguments

Cross-Curricilar Extensions

Make a chart or graph that lists costs per year of destruction caused by various invasive plants and/or animals.

Design a map that locates biomes of the United States that have invasive plants and/or animals.

Draw a poster that shows ways to prevent the invasion of non-native species.
Draw a picture that compares two biomes and the similar ecological roles played by the different kinds of organisms.
Make a drawing that compares predator/prey relationships.

Design a flowchart that explains the food web.
Distribute a newsletter that describes "America's Least Wanted."
Create a chart that categorizes predator/prey relationships in different biomes.

Design an ecosystem that categorizes the functions of the population of organisms.

Write a research report about invasive species.



Animal profiles, photos, and news. The animal information is listed by region of the world or by habitat. Check out the classroom activities.


Endangered species profiles, photographs, facts, state and region lists, and more.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Choose "Creature Feature" from the menu to find information about endangered species. Play the game "Risky Critters" about endangered animals.

International Wildlife Coalition

Check out their Wildlife Watch and Whale Watch portions.

World Wildlife Fund

Select a country to find information about endangered species from that area of the world.

USGS (United States Geological Survey)

Scroll down the page to find links to information about specific endangered animals.

Endangered: Exploring a World at Risk

From the American Museum of Natural History. Take an expedition through the world of endangered species.

NOAA Endangered Animals

At this site you and your students will be able to explore and learn about many different varieties of endangered marine animals.

Natural History Notebook

At this site you'll find lots of fascinating facts about 246 animal species. You'll also learn about the amazing diversity of life on earth (both past and present), and why it's important to protect that diversity.

The Endangered Animals of the World

Student-created but with a lot of useful information – a collaborative project between a school in Indiana and one in the Netherlands.

SchoolWorld Internet Education Endangered Species Project

Student-created with information about endangered plants as well as animals. Join School World Members in researching and reporting on Endangered Species from around the world. Students are encouraged to refer to the Report Guidelines when writing about their subject. The information supplied will be written into a report and included in this list of Endangered Species.

Student Wildlife Ambassador

Five teams of high school students are working on a project to educate consumers about the impact of wildlife trade on endangered and threatened species.


From the Audubon Society, this is information about endangered birds. It identifies North American bird species that are in trouble. Watch List Species are those faced with population decline, limited geographic range, and/or threats such as habitat loss on their breeding and wintering grounds.

Endangered Means There's Still Time

A slide show about endangered animals.

Green Kids Guide to Threatened Species ways_to_help_environment /kids.htm

How kids can make a difference to Threatened Species and Threatened Ecological Communities. Australia is home to more than one million species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. About 85% of flowering plants, 84% of mammals, more than 45% of birds, and 89% of inshore, temperate-zone fish are endemic – that is they are only found in Australia. Changes to the landscape and native habitat as a result of human activity have put many of these unique species at risk.

Community Connections

Invite a State Forest Ranger or Fish and Game Warden to your classroom to talk to your students about their local environment in regards to native and non-native plants and animals and how they are dealing with the problem.

Take a field trip to a local, state, or national park to explore the area for native and non-native plants and animals.

Write a letter to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior to ask him about what the United States is doing to combat invasive non-native species such as the Sea Lamprey that are depleting many of the Great Lakes of their native species of fish.

Take a fieldtrip to a local fish hatchery to experience first-hand how native and non-native species of fish are being raised to repopulate the local waterways or for personal consumption.

Have your students visit ethnically diverse restaurants in the region and study the menus to see what types of non-native species are being raised and or prepared for consumption.