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.
- List the reasons why the Rusty (or Ringed, Virile, Red Swamp) crayfish is an example of an invasive species.
- Describe how invasive crayfish got into Oregon rivers.
- List three ways to stop the spread of invasive crayfish.
Activity Links and Resources:
- Invasive Crayfish in Oregon
- Crayfish Invasion video—This seven minute video from OPB’s Oregon Field Guide program describes the problem of invasive crayfish in Oregon’s rivers, how 4th grade classrooms have contributed to the spread of these invasive species, and presents solutions for students and teachers.
- Guide to crayfish identification in the Pacific NW—Full-color excerpt from Oregon Sea Grant publication On The Lookout For Aquatic Invaders
- Complete Crayfish Curriculum from The River Mile Network – This 2019 NGSS-aligned curriculum is for grades 2-12. Lesson 3 focuses on invasive crayfish.
- See the Animals in the Classroom topic guide for information about how to keep crayfish in the classroom and how classroom animals impact learning.
- Watershed and Invasive Species Education (WISE) provides professional development and curriculum focused on aquatic invasive species in Oregon
- Oregon Invasive Species Hotline—A resource for reporting invasive species
- Early Detection & Distribution mapping system—This website lists invasive species by state and county, with lots of information about invasive plants.
- 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.