Georgian Court University
National Geographic Invaders (Part of the Strange Days on Planet Earth Series)
Grade Level: 6-8
Time Frame: Two, 40-45 minute class periods (could also be carried out in science class if it works better in your school).
Introduction to Lesson: .
In this lesson, students will watch the "Invaders" episode of the National Geographic Series "Strange Days on Planet Earth". This documentary addresses many of the ideas about invasive species that have been covered in this learning unit but uses different examples to those we've looked at so far. Watching and thinking about the video and then researching Phragmites and other invasive species as assigned by the teacher will provides the students with the opportunity to extend their understanding of the impact of invasive species by looking at a variety of invasive species around the world and the problems that they cause. It will also provide them with the opportunity to research simple things that they and their families can do to help reduce the chances that things that they do will introduce additional invasive species into their neighborhoods and local wild spaces.
Image source: http://i38.tinypic.com/2pq9s7k.jpg
New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards:
STANDARD 3.4 (Listening) All students will listen actively to information from a variety of sources in a variety of situations.
STANDARD 5.10 (Environmental Studies) All students will develop an understanding of the environment as a system of interdependent components affected by human activity and natural phenomena.
Human Interactions and Impact
STANDARD 6.1 (Social Studies Skills) All students will utilize historical thinking, problem solving, and research skills to maximize their understanding of civics, history, geography, and economics.
Social Studies Skills.
STANDARD 9.2 (Consumer, Family, and Life Skills) All students will demonstrate critical life skills in order to be functional members of society.
Objectives: After completing this lesson SWBAT
Anticipatory Set: This lesson is designed to be part of a capstone experience for this unit. By this point the students should have explored the issue of invasive species in a number of classes, particularly in the science portion of the curriculum. We thus suggest starting this lesson by asking students to name the invasive species that they are aware of, either from listening to the news or watching TV or from exploring materials in other portions of this learning unit. The obvious answer (we hope!) will be Phragmites (the common reed). However, other species mentioned in materials assigned for this unit include gypsy moths (many NJ students will be personally familiar with these since an outbreak of these animals in 2008 removed leaves from many trees especially in Jackson Township and stories about them were in the media for much of the summer of that year), Wooly Adelgids, Asian Longhorned Beetles, Canada Thistles and kudzu. Recent news-making invasive species include Japanese shore crabs, Chinese mitten crabs, snake head fish, Japanese stilt grass, Asiatic bittersweet and mile a minute weed. When a student names an invasive species, engage that student and others in a discussion about that species. What do they know about it? (what kind of animal or plant is it, why is it bad etc?). Conclude the discussion by telling students that today they will be watching a movie about invasive species and their impacts on people's lives as well as on natural ecosystems.
1. Teacher and students will watch the "Invaders" episode of the National Geographic Series "Strange Days on Planet Earth" together. As noted in the materials section of this lesson plan, this episode is available free on line at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5333797585907820770 and at http://freeonlinedocumentaries.blogspot.com/2008/07/strange-days-on-planet-earth-invaders.html. Alternately, this excellent show is often available as part of a 2 DVD set from your local library or for purchase from PBS.
Once the students have viewed the episode (or in the next class), split the students into teams and assign each team to research one of the invasive species in the list below. Several links to key fact sheets are provided for each species. If students are using the computer lab they can look for additional resources, but if a computer lab isn't available teachers can provide print copies of the suggested links and the information therein should allow the students to answer most or all of the assigned questions:
Questions to answer regarding student group's assigned species (a worksheet for this exercise is provided in the materials section above).
1. How did your assigned species arrive in the US?
2. How does it spread from one place to another now that it is here?
3. Why is your species a problem? (what damage does it do)?
4. Brainstorm: What are the likely social consequences of this invasive organism? (answers will likely NOT be on the sheets: students will need to think about this for themselves and will likely need help from the teacher who should walk around between the groups during this phase with suggestions and hints as needed).
(e.g. when Phragmites invades wetlands the wetlands dry out. This means that they no longer function as filters for pollutants, and so drinking water may be more polluted when it comes through invaded areas than it was after passing through the pre-invasion wetland. Since wetlands also help absorb water after rainfalls, they help prevent flooding. Invasion by Phragmites may thus mean that people in low lying communities downstream of the invaded marsh may have a higher risk of flooding during storms. The loss of the esthetic value from invaded wetlands (less variety of flowers, birds and animals, less pretty blue open water etc.) also has a social cost in lost recreational / spiritual value of our wildspaces).
5. Develop a list of management methods that can be used to reduce the size of the populations of your assigned invasive species in the US?
6. Which of the methods that you have listed are mechanical? Which are chemical and which are biological?
7. What are the ADVANTAGES and DISADVANTAGES of the management strategies youíve found for your species?
8. What methods might be used to PREVENT the further spread of your assigned species (or is this irrelevant for your species? If so why?)
9. If desired have students create a presentation about their chosen species to the rest of the class. Depending on resources, this presentation could take the form of a poster, PowerPoint or even a skit in which the students play act members of a community that has just found out that their assigned species has arrived in their communities and the community tries to understand how it got there, how it will spread in their communities, why its bad and what they can do to either eliminate it from their community or prevent it from spreading further than it already has.
Exit Activity: Have the students write on a slip of paper one or more thing that they think is happening in their neighborhood that might create the risk of introducing new invasive species into native habitats and one thing that they, their families, friends or neighbors could do to help reduce this risk.
Assessment: Teachers can use students' worksheets to assess their attentiveness during the movie and their comprehension of its content, as well as their work within their groups.
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© 2009. Allison McGrath (Author of worksheet), Louise Wootton (Author and Editor)
Although the information in this document has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement NE97262206 to Georgian Court University, it has not gone through the Agency's publications review process and, therefore, may not necessarily reflect the views of the Agency and no official endorsement should be inferred.