Players identify and remove invasive species from ecosystems around the world, in this interactive game from PLUM LANDING. But they must act quickly, before the invasive species use up all the resources!
Here are suggested ways to engage students with this interactive and with activities related to ecosystems and invasive species.
Using the Interactive: Use the following suggestions to guide students’ use of the interactive.
Before: Ask students if they have heard the term invasive species. What do they think it means? You might break the term down by asking if they know what the word invade means. To invade means to take over, or to enter a new place in large numbers. An invasive species is a species that is not native to a place, but enters the ecosystem and spreads over the area. Invasive species cause problems because they often use the resources, such as food or shelter, that also are used by native species. Some invasive species, such as Burmese pythons, also prey on native species, putting their populations at risk.
During: For each ecosystem, have students play one round during which they remove NO invasive species. Document what happens to both the native species and the invasive species. Then have them play a round in which they remove all but one individual of the invasive species.
After: Ask students to explain what happened if they did not remove invasive species from the ecosystem. Did this happen in every ecosystem? What might explain this pattern?
Explore Some More:
Invasive Species Gallery Invasive species are no laughing matter—they can, and have, damaged ecosystems across the United States. Asian longhorned beetles have chomped their way through forests across the eastern U.S., Burmese pythons threaten waterways in Florida, and European starlings are a major crop pest all over the country. Invasive species can harm people, too. West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes, and invasive fire ants have painful stings and will attack people by the dozens, and even hundreds, if their nests are disturbed. Find out more about invasive species in general at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Invasive Species Information Center. Then use its State Resources interactive map to identify three invasive species that live in your state.
Over a few days, have students work in pairs to create a poster about an invasive organism in your state. (You can assign a species to each student pair or have them choose from a list.) The posters should include drawings of the organism, a report on how they came to your state, an explanation of how they can damage local ecosystems, and ways to help fix the problem. (Students can go to the National Wildlife Federation for ideas on how to address the problem). Hang the completed posters on a wall in your classroom or in a common space and have your students do a “gallery walk,” in which they read and observe the posters their classmates made. You might even invite other classes to visit your invasive species gallery!
Next Generation Science Standards
Disciplinary Core Ideas
LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans
Science and Engineering Practices
Asking Questions and Defining Problems
Developing and Using Models
Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
Cause and Effect: Mechanism and Prediction
Systems and System Models
Energy and Matter: Flows, Cycles, and Conservation