Ideas for the Classroom
Have students or student groups prepare one or more public education programs about invasive species. Encourage students to consider various media, including publications (e.g., flyers, posters or fact sheets), visual publications, videos, drama, music, etc.
Have students write a short
essay on why knowledge about invasive species
is (or might be) important in their own lives.
Have students investigate
possible explanations for the introduction of
an invasive species of local or regional concern,
and prepare a written report outlining at least
one hypothesis that explains how this invasive
species was introduced into its non-native habitat.
The report should also explain:
A good starting point for
this research is the online resources in the “Student
Guide” section. The “For Teachers” section
also has some useful online resources. If possible,
have each student or student group choose a different
species. Lastly, lead a discussion of student’s
Have students answer one
or more of the following questions in a report
or an oral presentation:
Scientists have speculated
that six lionfish were released from a flooded
marine aquarium in Florida because of Hurricane
Andrew in 1992. At least one of these individuals
was seen alive several days later. Have students
speculate about the answers to the following
questions, and then generate some hypotheses
about how lionfish might have colonized the Atlantic.
Click on the links to view or print for use as handouts. Includes all the text and images of the Web site content.
Chapters (with Glossary):
The Lionfish Invasion! (pdf, 460Kb), includes:
Lionfish Biology Fact Sheet
Word text version (doc, 36Kb),
Adobe Acrobat version (pdf, 128Kb)
Thinking Like a Scientist (pdf, 232Kb) - Includes the supplement page: Profile of a NOAA Scientist: Paula Whitfield
Student Guide (pdf, 140Kb); includes Web Resources and Glossary
Links to Lesson Plans
For Grades 9-12 (easily adapted for middle school students). This introductory lesson from NOAA's National Ocean Service introduces students to the broad concept of invasive species. Students prepare a written case study on an invasive aquatic species, followed by an oral presentation. The lesson plan provides a list of possible species to choose from, and information about their introduction, impact, and control. Suggestions for extensions are also provided.
Real-Life Aliens: Introduced Species
Advanced/AP High School and undergraduate level. This lesson examines issues stemming from introduced and invasive species. Students can gather statistical information about local invasive species, interview animal and plant inspectors at an international airport, investigate the pet parrot trade, and more.
For Grades 6-8 (easily adapted for lower high school level). In this activity from the National Geographic Society, students explore the ways that native species interact in a healthy Chesapeake Bay. They then learn how exotic and invasive species can threaten the balance of the ecosystem. Students discover how various elements of the Bay’s ecosystems are interconnected and investigate some of the issues associated with invasive species.
For Grades 9-12. This classroom activity from PBS is supported by the Secrets of the Ocean Realm episode “Venom!”, which investigates the behaviors of creatures that sting and those that are able to circumvent the use of venom (available from PBS on DVD). In this activity, students learn about the nature of venom and the treatment of envenomation. They conduct an experiment to demonstrate how proteins such as venoms can be denatured. For additional information on ocean creatures that are venomous (including lionfish), see this related Web page from PBS:
Discovery School Lesson Plan on Invasive Plants
For Grades 6-8 (easily adapted for grades 9-12; standards given for all grade levels). Students investigate endemic and introduced species in the Galapagos Islands, and observe how one native species has been endangered by an invasive one.
For Grades 9-12. Using the Internet, students research the complications and environmental impact non-native species can have on ecosystems. Students conduct a Web quest to identify other regions of the world that are damaged due to the introduction of non-native species. Students create digitized posters that highlight their particular area of research, and discuss and draw similarities and differences between regions. Finally, students select an indigenous species that has been impacted by a non-native species and devise a population control method for restoring the indigenous species to its natural status in the ecosystem.
Environmental Inquiry: Invasive Species
For Grades 9-12. This web site hosts two great student field activities: 1) Early Detection Surveys and 2) Plot Sampling: Density. Click on the link titled “Invasion Ecology” at the very bottom of either activity to go to the downloadable student worksheets, peer review forms, assessment rubrics, test questions, background material, links and more.
Growing Native in Your Community/The Power of Invasion
For Grades 6-8 (easily expanded and adapted for high school students). These three lesson plans from the Wildlife Habitat Council can be used in succession or alone. They introduce students to the concepts of native plant communities and the wildlife that inhabits them. Students study native and invasive species in the classroom and learn to identify them in the wild. Some exercises can be done in the classroom.
Invasive Species Video and Lesson Plan
For Grades 9-12. This video, hosted and narrated by BugMobile, the famous talking Volkswagen, identifies the effects that people and their activities have on watersheds, explains species diversity, introduces species classified as pests in their new environments, and analyzes the benefits of Integrated Pest Management to the environment and society. Each video includes a lesson plan with pre- and post-tests, discussion questions and suggestions for related activities. There is a cost associated with the videos, but the lesson plans are available for free download at this Web site.
Pushy Plants and Alien Animals
For Grades 6-12. This great interactive exercise on invasive plants and animals from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is geared toward the fauna of North Carolina. The exercise could be adapted for many locations in the southeastern United States.
Online Resources for Teachers
This Web site is one-stop shopping for everything you ever wanted to know about invasive species and the gateway to Federal efforts to control them. Learn about the impacts of invasive species and the Federal government's response, read select species profiles, and find links to agencies and organizations dealing with invasive-species issues. Invasivespecies.gov is also the official site for the National Invasive Species Council, which coordinates Federal responses to the problem.
The Bridge is a growing
collection of the best marine education resources
available on-line. It provides educators with
a convenient source of accurate and useful information
on global, national, and regional marine science
topics. Resources are organized as indicated
on the sidebar on the left side of the screen.
Aquatic Invasive Species: An Educators Information and Materials Guide http://www.seagrant.umn.edu/exotics/ais_guide.pdf
This booklet from the University of Minnesota Sea Grant College Program is a compilation of selected educational material on aquatic invasive species for K-12 teachers and informal educators. Entries include curricula, print materials, posters, videos, books, CDs and Web sites.
Developed by the Cornell Environmental Inquiry Program, Invasion Ecology consists of a student edition and teacher's guide designed to enable high school students to carry out authentic research. By studying non-native invasive species such as purple loosestrife and Phragmites, students will learn about the links between biology and ecology—and explore how scientists are fighting these aggressors with biological controls. Invasion Ecology was published by the National Science Teachers Association.
Case Teaching Notes for “Exotics”
These case notes examine the biological, ecological, social, political, and economic factors surrounding exotic species, as well as the role of resource managers in shaping public policy on environmental issues. Although aimed at the college level, this is excellent background reading for 9-12 teachers.
USGS—Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Web Site (includes a searchable database)
This Web site is a central repository for accurate and spatially-referenced biogeographic information on nonindigenous aquatic species. It provides scientific reports, online/real-time queries, spatial data sets, regional contact lists, and general information. These data are for use by biologists, interagency groups, and the public. The geographical coverage is the United States.
Global Environmental Change: Introduced Species
Introduced Species is one of four books in NSTA Press's Global Environmental Change series, a joint project of NSTA Press and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Seven inquiry-based activities--using pillbugs, the school grounds, species dispersal maps, and introductory genetics--provide students with the skills they need to address the problem of nonindigenous species.
Aliens in Your Neighborhood:
Invasive Species and the National Parks
Aliens In Your Neighborhood is an introduction to the National Park Service’s curriculum on invasive plants. It addresses key national strategies and enables students to become working partners with the National Parks System as citizen scientists.
This Web site is a compilation of educational resources on invasive species and integrated pest management. It is sponsored by the National Science Foundation Center for Integrated Pest Management.
The Impacts of Introduced
Species to the United States
This is an easy-to-understand
article by Daniel Simberloff, a leading ecologist,
about the status and biology of introduced species
in the United States. It appeared in the respected
online journal Consequences in 1996.
National Science Education Standards
SciLinks, a major product
of the National Science Teachers Association
(NSTA), identifies Web-based, educationally appropriate
science content that provide useful background
information to students and teachers. All Web
pages cited in SciLinks adhere to rigorous NSTA
criteria and have been formally evaluated by
NSTA professionals. NSTA members may access this
directly from NSTA’s SciLinks Web site
through a list of keywords. SciLinks also support
most major textbook publishers and is directly
referenced in more than 45 science textbooks,
and other publications as well, enabling all
teachers and students to access its database
of vetted resources.
Below, you will find the SciLinks Web site keywords featured on the SciLinks Web site that are appropriate to the topic of invasive species (The Lionfish Invasion!) and the corresponding National Science Education Standards arranged by subject, topic and concept:
SciLinks Keyword: Invasive Species
Subject: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
º Topic: Natural and human-induced hazards
> Concept: **Invasive species destroy ecosystems as surely as chemical pollution or human population growth with associated development. Whether they are called invasive, non-native, alien, exotic, or nonindigenous, introduced species are those that evolved elsewhere and have been purposely or accidentally relocated. Introduced species often find no natural enemies in their new habitat and therefore spread easily and quickly.
SciLinks Keyword: Human Impact
Subject: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
º Topic: Natural and human-induced hazards
> Concept: Human activities can enhance potential for hazards.
SciLinks Keyword: Ecology
Subject: History and Nature of Science
º Topic: Science as a human endeavor
> Concept: **
Ecology is the study of relationships between
living things and
SciLinks Keyword: Aquatic Biomes
Subject: Life Science
º Topic: Populations and ecosystems
All populations living together and the physical factors with which they interact compose an ecosystem.
** Marine ecosystems cover
almost three-quarters of the Earth's surface
and contain about 97 percent of the Earth's water
Scilinks Icon Information
The icons below are used on NSTA’s SciLinks Web site (www.scilinks.org) to identify characteristics of the Web pages in its database. Resources available in The Lionfish Invasion! include:
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