Human Impacts—Crayfish Invasion

Summary: In this case study, students discover how elementary school classrooms in Oregon are directly connected to the presence/absence of an aquatic invasive species.

Concepts to teach: Invasive species, best practices for classroom pets

Goals: Students see that their personal and classroom behaviors can affect aquatic ecosystem health.

S3.1, S3.2L.1
S4.1, S4.2L.1
S5.1L.1, S5.2L.1

Specific Objectives:

  1. List the reasons why the Rusty (or Ringed, Virile, Red Swamp) crayfish is an example of an invasive species.
  2. Describe how invasive crayfish got into Oregon rivers.
  3. List three ways to stop the spread of invasive crayfish.

Activity Links and Resources:


  • Use or develop formative assessment probes to gauge student understanding about the water cycle. The following probes from Uncovering Student Ideas in Science, vol. 2 could be applied or modified (to obtain Uncovering Student Ideas in Science publications or access sample chapters, visit the NSTA website):
    • Habitat Change—explores student understanding of how animal populations are affected when habitats are changed. Consider modifying this instrument to address student understanding of how competition from invasive species can affect native populations.
  • Within a discussion about the care of classroom pets, ask students what should happen to the animal at the end of the school year. One suggestion may be: release the animal into the wild. Collect all ideas on a paper that can be referenced and adjusted after the following activities.