Introduced species (also known as alien, nonnative, nonindigenous, or exotic species) are organisms that have been either accidentally or intentionally brought into an ecosystem in which they were not formerly found. The introduction of an organism may be beneficial, have no effect, or have a negative impact on the ecosystem into which it is released. Sometimes, both positive and negative impacts can be observed. When an introduced species has a negative impact, it is considered invasive. Invasive species are nonnative organisms that can survive and reproduce in the habitat to which they have been introduced, and whose introduction causes (or may cause)economic harm, environmental harm, and/or harm to human health.
Use the following activity to increase your student’s understanding of invasive species.
- Study the impact of an invasive species on an ecosystem.
- Report on an invasive species, identifying its impact on a native species.
- Engage students by asking them to create a KWL chart about invasive species. Start with them listing what they know (K) about invasive species. Have them share (individually or in small groups) 1 or 2 items they listed.
- Ask them to list what they would like to know (W) about invasive species after they have shared what they know.
- Complete day 1 by showing a video clip on invasive species. YouTube offers a variety of clips—select one appropriate for your class.
- Explore different types of aquatic and terrestrial plant, insect, and animal species. Have students visit the USDA’s National Invasive Species Information Center. It offers a broad (but not complete) list of invasive species, providing a great place to get started.
- Ask students to select an invasive species to investigate further. Students will need to research:
- The distribution of invasive species
- How invasive species were introduced
- The impact the invasive species has on native species
- Any preventive measures taken to control the growth of invasive species
- Assign students to create a 1-page flyer on their selected invasive species. It should include the following:
- Picture(s) of the invasive species and its name
- A map showing its distribution
- How the invasive species was introduced
- Its current impact on native species
- Any preventive measures taken to control its growth
- Have students place citations on the back of the flyer (or on a separate piece of paper).
- Create small groups of 4 to 6 students and have them share their completed flyers with group members. You will need to set ground rules for this pair/share activity.
- Give each member of the group 2 minutes to present. The allotted time is for discussing the invasive species and fielding questions from other group members.
- Ask students to list what they learned (L) about invasive species in their KWL charts.
- Display flyers in the classroom so that students can see the variety of invasive species.
Science Department Head
Geneva School of Boerne
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