Get a Grip on Biodiversity!

Get a Grip on Biodiversity!
Non-native Invasive Species
Learning Kit
Biodi ve rsity!
United States Forest Service - Eastern Region
Non-Native Invasive Species
They’re munching our trees, invading our waters, and taking over our favorite natural communities.
They are invasive species! They are plants, animals, and pathogens from other parts of the world –
even other parts of our own country! They outcompete, outlast, and outlive our natives. The threat
to natural communities posed by invasive species is second only to habitat loss. But before you get
too tough on them, remember, they couldn’t do it without us! People are the ones who travel around
the world, trade with other countries, and transport invasive species to places they could never have
gone by themselves.
Everyday, people cross international borders, vacation in pristine natural areas, travel to developing
countries, ship materials across the oceans, and obtain plants and animals for fun and profit. Each
move, each transaction, each development opens a door.
To stop the invasion, we have to become aware of the threat and become uncomfortable about
what we might be losing. This Non-native Invasive Species Learning Kit includes four modules
designed to take people from awareness of the problem to taking action. Activities in the modules
are designed for use by USFS staff, teachers, and non-formal educators with people of all ages.
Get a Grip on Biodiversity! - This is the module you have!
Celebrate diversity through story and art, check out what happens when invasives take over an
area, and get ready to learn more about invasive species. Activities include: The Salamander
Room, Web of Life, Freeze Frame, There’s a Hair in My Dirt!, and Jargon Unplugged.
Meet the Invaders!
Confront some invasive species, discover their adaptations, and find out why they are such a
problem. Activities include: Ad-libbed Aliens, Bioblunder Tribunal, Super Alien, Outwit-OutplantOutlast, and Meadow in a Can.
Close the Doors!
Track down invasive species in your own neighborhood, discover how they arrived, and find out
how you can prevent further introductions. Activities include: BioBlitz, Means & Modes, Sticky
Situations, and Homeland Security.
Do Something!
Measure the spread of invasives, discover how everyday decisions can make a difference, and
create invasive species artwork. Activitities include: Biodiversity Index, Rival for Survival, Pet
Detective, Miss Rumphius Revisited, and Inspired by Wrath.
Produced by
United States Forest Service, Eastern Region
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and
activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs,
sexual orientation, and marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.)
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program
information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at
(202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).
To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W,
Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202)
720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
Writer and Designer: Beth Mittermaier, EARTH Ltd.
Biodi ve rsity!
The Salamander Room ............................................................................ 5
Read a story about a boy and a salamander to discover
the complexities of a wild animal’s home.
Web of Life .............................................................................................. 9
Make connections between the plants and animals that
live in a forest.
Freeze Frame ........................................................................................ 15
Focus on beautiful plants and natural landscapes by
“framing” them with picture mats.
There’s a Hair in My Dirt ........................................................................ 19
Read a humorous story about a nature lover. Then,
consider how our knowledge and attitudes influence the
way we perceive the natural environment.
Jargon Unplugged ................................................................................. 23
Play a word game to decode the words scientists use to
describe invasive species.
Activity Crosswalk ................................................................................ 37
Use these tables to help you find the right activity. Activities
are categorized by audience, subject, message, logistics, and
level of instructor’s knowledge.
Non-native Invasive Species Learning Kit produced by the United States Forest Service - Eastern Region
Using the book, The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer, and
learning kit props, the students will turn Brian’s “room” into a
salamander paradise and find out that animals need diverse
places to survive.
Discover that wild animals
need diverse habitats to
Consider the consequences
of providing a home for a
wild animal.
Appreciate the diversity of
natural habitats.
Getting Ready
1. Read the story and decide how you will present it.
2. However you choose to present the story, be sure to
Pets are special animal friends that depend on us for
everything they need. If you have a pet fish, guinea pig, cat, or
dog, you must give it food, water, and exercise everyday. Some
pets are easy to take care of and fit right into our families. This
story will help us think about what could happen if we tried to
keep a wild animal for a pet. A wild animal is an animal that
lives on its own. It finds its own home and food. Having a wild
animal for a pet sounds exciting, but it may not be very easy.
Doing the Activity
1. Introduce the story. Ask the students if they ever wished
they had a wild animal for a pet. What about a salamander?
Introduce Brian, the boy in the story, and the salamander
that he finds in the woods.
2. Share the story. There are many ways that you can use
the materials in the learning kit. Here are some
Read the book. Spread out the burgandy story cloth and
invite the students to sit in a circle around it. (Hint: If
they sit on the edge of the cloth, they will be less likely
to creep closer to you and block the view for the rest of
the group.) As you read, move the book slowly around
the circle so the students can see the illustrations. After
reading the story, pass out several story props to each
child. Now, read the story again. This time invite the
students to add the props to the story cloth as they
appear in the story. For example, when the story
Non-native Invasive Species Learning Kit produced by the United States Forest Service - Eastern Region
Preschool – grade 3
Group Size
Maximum 20 preferred
Prep Time
Activity Time
10 – 20 minutes for story and
Materials in the Kit
The Salamander Room by
Anne Mazer
story cloth
blanket and pillow
rocks (3)
tree stump
moss pillow
pools of water (2)
salamander replicas (3)
frog replicas (2)
stuffed bird
insect replicas (15)
leaves (many)
mushrooms (3)
National Education Standards
see next page
mentions the pools of water, invite the child with the
water to spread the blue fabric on the story cloth. Allow
time for students to place the props before continuing
with the story.
National Education Standards
Grades K -3
English Language Arts: 1
Environmental Education:
2.2.C - Systems and
Science: C - Characteristics
of Organisms
Tell the beginning of the story with the props. Use the
book to show how Brian continues to transform his room
into a forest.
Read the story using the book pictures and props to
illustrate. You can place the props yourself, or hand them
to students to place.
3. Talk about the story. Discuss some of these questions:
What happened to Brian’s room? (It changed into a forest!)
Why? (That’s where a salamander lives. A forest is
where it finds everything it needs to stay alive.)
What did the salamander need? (A salamander needs a
variety of foods, places to hide, water, fresh air, and
other animals.) With older students, discuss how the
salamander connects with other animals in the story.
Look at all the different kinds of insects and the different
shapes of leaves. Why does the salamander need so
many kinds of plants and animals to survive? (The
variety of plants provide food and homes for a variety of
insects and other living things. These plants and animals
all depend on each other to live.)
Brian was willing to make some big changes to his room
so that the salamander could live with him. Name some
things Brian did that you could do to your room. Name
some things that he did that you could not do!
What if a salamander took you to its home? What would
the salamander have to do to make you comfortable?
What is special about where you live? What do you need
to survive? Could a salamander turn its home into a
place where you could live? If the salamander did
change its home, would it still be able to live there?
Assessing Student Learning
Ask students to imagine keeping wild animals in their own
bedrooms. Ask them to make a list of all the things their animals
need to survive. Invite them to draw pictures of their bedrooms
and show how they would have to change them if they were
going to keep wild animals.
Extending the Learning
Encourage free play. After reading the story, put the book and
the props in the story corner and encourage the children to
reenact the story themselves using the props.
Investigate diversity outdoors. Take a short hike outdoors to
look for animal homes. Check out the variety of plants present
in a natural area by looking for different shapes, colors, and
sizes of leaves. Celebrate the variety of life that surrounds us!
Make salamander stickees. While a real salamander doesn’t
make a good pet, a salamander stickee on the window can be a
great reminder of the diversity of life. See the pattern on this
page and the directions on page 8.
Bring it close to home.Choose an animal that is
familiar to the children. Create a flannel board to
show how you would have to change your
classroom or nature center to meet the needs of
the animal.
Finding Out More!
A Salamander’s Life by John Himmelman ©1998.
Nature Upclose series. Enter the world of the
salamander. Watch it grow hind legs and leave the
pond at the end of summer. Grades K - 3.
Snakes, Salamanders, and Lizards by
Diane L. Burns ©1998. Take-Along
Guide series. A field guide introducing
30 species of snakes, salamanders,
and lizards. Includes activity suggestions
and blank pages for drawings and notes.
Grades 2 - 5.
Did you know?
Non-native earthworms are
invading our forests. A
study at Cornell University
found that salamanders
declined in earthworminvaded forests.
Salamander Stickees
Cut salamander shapes out of vinyl and decorate them with
paint to make tiger salamanders and blue-spotted salamanders.
How to make stickees
pictures of blue-spotted and
tiger salamanders (see
Snakes, Salamanders, and
yellow or blue transparent
vinyl (available at fabric
permanent markers
scrap paper (8 ½” X 11")
piece of plastic wrap larger
than the salamander shape
rubbing alcohol
paper towels
black paint designed for
plastic (e.g., Paint for Plastic
by Plaid Enterprises)
1. Show the children pictures of salamanders. Invite them to
choose a tiger salamander (use black paint on yellow vinyl
leaving yellow splotches), a blue-spotted salamander (use
black paint on blue vinyl leaving blue spots), or a local
salamander of your choice.
2. Cut salamander shapes out of vinyl using the pattern on
page 7 or the children’s own designs. Precut shapes for
small children.
3. For each child, layer a piece of scrap paper, a piece of
plastic wrap, and a vinyl salamander.
4. Clean the backside of each salamander with a paper towel
soaked in rubbing alcohol. Then turn the salamanders over
and clean the front with rubbing alcohol. Be sure the plastic
wrap is smooth under the salamanders and that the edges
of the salamanders are sealed to the plastic wrap. This will
keep paint from oozing under the wrap and ensure that the
salamanders will stick to windows when the project is
5. Paint. Supervise small children! The paint is permanent!
Wash any paint that spills on clothes or furnishings
immediately with soap and water. Monitor the thickness of
the paint. If it’s too thick, it doesn’t dry properly. If you are
working with small children and do not have adequate adult
supervision, consider using permanent markers instead of
paint. The color is not as intense, and the chance for
disaster isn’t either!
6. Allow salamanders to dry without moving for at least 30
minutes. Allow more time if the paint is thick. Send the
salamanders home attached to the plastic wrap. Although
the paint will not be completely cured for 24 hours, the
children can remove the salamanders from the plastic and
stick them to windows when they get home.
In this simulation game, students represent plants and animals
living in an aquatic habitat. Sitting in a circle, they connect
themselves to each other using string to represent the ways
they depend on each other. As they make connections, the
string forms a visual web of life. Then, they will experience what
happens when an invasive species enters their watery world.
Getting Ready
Describe an aquatic food web.
Identify the connections
between plants and animals
in an aquatic ecosystem.
Explain how the introduction
of an invasive species
impacts an aquatic food web.
1. Choose the cards you will use in the activity based on your
location and the students’ familiarity with the plants and
animals on the cards. Caution: These learning kits cover a
large area of northeastern and midwestern United States. A
plant or animal native to one location may not be native in
another. Check with local authorities if you are unsure of the
local ecological status of the plants and animals in this
2. Arrange for an adult leader for each group of 8 – 15
3. Optional: Make additional cards for plants or animals that
are unique to your location. Use the blank cards and
transparency pen provided in the kit.
Group Size
Materials in the Kit
Have you ever seen a perfect spider web? The rays reach out
and connect to tree trunks, rocks, and fences. They hold the
web in place. The spirals are evenly spaced. They tie the rays
together. If you follow the strands of silk, you can eventually get
to any place on the web!
Now picture a river, lake, or pond. An aquatic ecosystem is
made up of living and nonliving things that are connected to
each other. Some of the connections are obvious; some are
amazing. Algae need the light of the sun to live and grow. Insect
larvae eat the algae. Fish eat the insect larvae. If we could take
a pencil and magically draw the connections under the water,
the picture might start to look something like a crazy spider
web. Let’s play a game to see how this might work.
Non-native Invasive Species Learning Kit produced by the United States Forest Service - Eastern Region
Maximum 30, divided into
small groups of 8 - 15
Prep Time
Minimal, unless you make
additional cards for your
unique location
Activity Time
10 – 20 minutes
clip-on name badges (32)
Wisconsin Wildcards native species (2 sets of 17)
photo cards (2 sets of 4)
“sun” cards (2)
Wisconsin Wildcards - Alien
Invaders (11)
blank cards for adding sitespecific species (8)
transparency pen
bobbins with string (2)
National Education Standards
see next page
National Education Standards\
Grades 3 - 4
Environmental Education:
2.2.C - Systems and
Environmental Education:
2.2.D - Flow of Matter and
Science: C - Organisms and
their Environments
Science: F - Changes in
Social Studies: III - People,
Places, and Environments
Grades 5 - 8
Science: C - Populations
and Ecosystems
Doing the Activity
1. Divide the students into groups. Maximum group size is
15. The ideal size would be 8 – 12. Each group should sit in
a circle with an adult leader.
2. Assign each student an identity. Give each student a clipon name badge with a plant or animal card. Give students a
few minutes to read the backs of their cards. Younger
students may need help with the vocabulary. To play the
game, they will need to know what they eat. The box on
page 14 divides the plants and animals used in the game
into producers, plant eaters, meat eaters, and decomposers.
3. Start the game. Show the ball of string and explain that the
string will let us see the connections between plants and
animals. Put on the “sun” badge, and explain that you will
start, because all energy comes from the sun. Model the
game by saying, “I am the sun. I am passing the ball of
string to the cat-tail because I give it energy to grow.” You
hold onto the string and pass the ball to the cat-tail.
4. Continue the play. The “cat-tail” now chooses a plant or
animal in the circle that is connected to it in some way. The
“cat-tail” holds onto the string and passes the ball to another
plant or animal in the circle. For example, the cat-tail might
pass the ball to the muskrat that uses its leaves to build a
house, the riffle beetle larva that eats its leaves, or the
dragonfly larva that hides among its leaves. Keep the string
tight, but not too tight! Play continues until everyone is
holding onto the string. Some plants or animals might have
more connections, but everyone should be a part of the
crazy web!
5. Show the power of the sun. Explain that you, representing
the sun, are very important. Ask what might happen if the
sun suddenly stopped shining. Briefly discuss some of the
consequences. (Obviously, it would be dark! Without the
sun to provide warmth, the earth would cool off. The wind
would stop blowing, which would reduce the amount of
oxygen in the water. Plants would eventually die. Animals
that eat the plants would die. When we used up our food
reserves, we would die too.) Ask everyone to sit still. Begin
to tug gently on your part of the string. Tell the students that
when they feel the tug, they should begin to tug gently. Ask
them to watch as the tug moves through the web. Finally,
the whole web will be shaking! Everything is connected to
everything else.
6. Explore other connections. It is easy to understand how
the sun influences the connections between plants and
animals, because the sun is the source of all energy. What
would happen if the sowbug (or some other plant or animal)
disappeared? Sowbugs aren’t that important, are they? Try
the game again with the sowbug gently tugging on the web.
As each plant or animal in the circle feels the tug, he/she
should call out the plant or animal he/she represents.
7. Discuss impacts to the web. Talk about things that might
happen that would change the way the plants and animals
are connected. Here are some possibilities:
no rain falls for months
fertilizers or pesticides get washed into the water
too much rain falls
part of the aquatic area is filled for construction
8. Consider invasive species. Ask what might happen if a
new plant or animal came into the aquatic environment.
Choose an aquatic invasive species that is common in your
area. Ask the students how this new species might affect
the plants and animals of your little circle. See the list below
for some ideas. Identify one plant or animal that the new
invasive species will displace. Change the nametag of that
student. Follow the connections from that student to other
plants and animals in the circle. Ask the student to let go of
the string. What happens to the web? Ask the other students
to pull gently on the string. Watch as the web unravels.
Cat-tail – Outcompetes native plants. An aquatic area
dominated by cat-tails does not support the variety of life
that is found in a diverse wetland area. There are
several species of cat-tails. Some may be native in your
location; others may be non-native.
Common reed grass – Decreases native biodiversity
and the quality of the aquatic habitat especially for birds.
Common reed displaces native cat-tails, rushes, and
reeds. It has little food value for wildlife such as the
muskrat. Fish do not reproduce in stands of common reed.
Eurasian Water-milfoil – Forms dense stands that crowd
out native plant species. Water-milfoil isn’t as nutritious
as the aquatic plants that it replaces, so it supports
fewer invertebrates and fish than native aquatic plants.
Dense stands also entangle boat motor propellers and
interfere with swimming.
Human – Alters environments through road construction,
agriculture, and urban development. Introduces nonnative species. Changes that humans make to aquatic
environments increase populations of some species and
decrease populations of others.
Purple loosestrife – Crowds out native plants. Dense
stands of purple loosestrife change the whole ecology of
the aquatic environment and reduce the populations of
aquatic insects, mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and
What do you think?
Some people consider
humans to be invasive
species. What do you
think? Are we invasive
species when we travel to
other regions of the
world? If we are invasive
species, what can we do
to make less of an impact
on the habitats we
Rainbow smelt – Eats mayfly larvae, sowbugs, riffle
beetle larvae, and crane fly larvae. Competes with
yellow perch, pumpkinseeds, and young walleye for
food. Adult smelt also eat young walleye.
Round goby – Outcompetes native fish for food, partly
because it can eat in total darkness! Eats small fish.
Pushes native fish from their habitat, eats their eggs and
young, survives in poor water quality, and spawns
several times a year. Gobies even eat the bait right off of
angler’s hooks!
Rusty crayfish – Eats a lot of just about everything! Eats
aquatic plants, insect larvae, sowbugs, fish eggs, small
fish, and decaying plants and animals. Since rusty
crayfish have such huge appetites, they compete with
many native animals for food. They also destroy aquatic
plant beds that provide food and cover for other animals.
Note: Rusty crayfish are thought to be native to the Ohio
River Basin and portions of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee,
Indiana, and Illinois.
Spiny and fishhook waterflea – Eats larval fish.
Competes with small fish for food. Large fish eat them,
but it is hard for small fish to swallow them because of
their spines. They also collect in masses and make
fishing lines and equipment unusable.
Three spine stickleback – Competes with yellow perch,
pumpkinseeds, and dragonfly larvae for food. Three
spine sticklebacks are very aggressive fish that have
few predators because of the spines on their backs.
White perch – Competes with native fish for food,
especially walleye and yellow perch. Eats the eggs of
game fish like walleye and smallmouth bass.
Zebra mussel – Filters algae and organic debris from
the water so efficiently that there is little food left in the
water for mayfly larvae, caddisfly larvae, and small fish
like common shiners. Very few animals eat zebra
mussels. Zebra mussels also clog water intake pipes
and attach to the sides of boats and docks.
Can natives go “bad”?
Native plants are usually
not invasive, but sometimes
they can go “bad” and they
usually have our help!
When we disturb a
community through
construction or agriculture,
we can alter the way water
moves through the area
and tip the balance in favor
of one plant over another.
Cat-tails appear to be
winning in roadside ditches,
construction areas, and
other disturbed sites. In
these places, cat-tails can
establish a population
quickly and spread,
crowding out nearby native
Assessing Student Learning
Students each choose one plant or animal from the game.
Using a large sheet of paper, each student should draw a plant
or animal in the center of the paper. Instruct students to draw or
write the names of the other plants and animals from the game
around their central drawings. Tell them to draw lines from their
chosen plants or animals to other parts of the aquatic
ecosystem that are connected to them in any way. Older
students should describe the connections along the lines (e.g.,
“mayfly larvae eat diatoms”). Encourage students to add
nonliving things (e.g., rain, rocks, or soil) or other plants and
animals that live in an aquatic habitat and connect to them.
Extending the Learning
Try a Habitat Lap Sit. After they try this activity, students will
definitely understand why everything in a lake or pond depends
on everything else! Tell students that they are going to
represent the plants and animals that live together in an aquatic
habitat. Find some soft grass or carpet! Have students stand in
a circle with shoulders almost touching. Instruct everyone to
turn to the right and put their hands on the hips of the person in
front of them. On the count of three, they should gently guide
the person in front of them onto their lap. If it works correctly,
everyone will be sitting on the lap of another person in a huge
continuous lap sit! It may take a few attempts to get it right.
Adjust the distance between people to match the sizes of your
students. Caution: People with back or knee problems should
sit this one out!
Encourage students to play with the cards individually.
Put the cards on a bulletin board and use string to connect
them to each other in a web of life.
Use the cards at a learning station and encourage students
to play Dominoes. Starting with one card, students should
place cards end to end. Each time they place a card, they
must describe the connections between the new card and
the card on the table.
Play Web of Life outdoors. Take the game outside! Create a
Web of Life in the schoolyard or a nearby park. Start by tying a
string to a tree or other plant. Connect the green plant to living
and nonliving things. Use animal signs instead of real animals!
Don’t forget to clean up your string!
Finding Out More!
Who Eats What? Food Chains and Food Webs by Patricia
Lauber ©1995. Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out Science series –
Stage 2 Book. Explains the concept of a food chain and how
plants, animals, and humans are ecologically linked. Grades 1 - 4.
Who’s Who?
This list is intended to help you play the Web of Life game.
You will notice that some animals are listed more than once.
Many animals are opportunistic feeders, eating whatever
comes their way. These lists reflect the main food sources
for each animal.
cat-tails – The Wisconsin Wildcard features
both native and non-native cat-tails.
Aquatic Plant Eaters
caddisfly larva
riffle beetle larva
mayfly larva
common shiner
Aquatic Meat Eaters
dragonfly larva
caddisfly larva
northern pike
yellow perch
brown bullhead
common shiner
Blanding’s turtle
Blanchard’s cricket frog
crane fly larva
caddisfly larva
northern pike
brown bullhead
Freeze Fra m e
Sometimes it’s difficult to focus on the beauty of a single part of
nature. Using picture mats, students “frame” their favorite plants
or scenes. As a group, take a tour through your spontaneous art
gallery allowing students to be the art experts for their
selections. If you have time and art supplies, allow students to
create their own masterpieces!
Observe a natural area from
a unique perspective.
Locate plants or scenery
that are personally
Describe natural works of art
for others to view and
Appreciate the beauty and
diversity of a natural area.
Getting Ready
1. Set the Freeze Frame sign at the trailhead you plan to use.
2. Choose several “masterpieces” and frame them using the
picture mats in the kit. Consider framing a wildflower in
bloom, a mushroom, some interesting bark, or a nature
scene. Choose a variety of images and scales.
3. Plan how you will introduce the works of art.
Welcome to Freeze Frame, nature’s art gallery! In this beautiful
gallery, you will find works of art in all stages of completion.
Some works are only on display a few days each year; other
works have taken hundreds of years to be formed and will
remain relatively unchanged for years to come. This gallery is
always changing. We have little control over the lighting in the
gallery, so the artworks can change right before your eyes and
throughout the day. We also encourage you to visit in different
seasons because the works do reflect amazing seasonal
Due to the size of the gallery, you will find small works displayed
within much larger works. Attention to detail will enhance your
experience in the gallery. Watch for repeating patterns and
subtle changes in color. Without further delay, let’s enter and
enjoy nature’s art gallery.
Preschool – adult
Group Size
Maximum 30, 10 – 15
preferred; divide larger groups
into teams of 2 or 3 students
Prep Time
15 - 20 minutes
Activity Time
10 - 30 minutes
Materials in the Kit
picture mats (24)
Freeze Frame sign
National Education Standards
see next page
Doing the Activity
Follow these directions for students in grade 5 and up.
1. Enter the gallery. Welcome the group to the Freeze Frame
art gallery. Use the introduction to set the stage for your
Non-native Invasive Species Learning Kit produced by the United States Forest Service - Eastern Region
National Education Standards
Grades K - 4
Environmental Education:
2.4.C - Environment and
Society, Places
Science: D - Changes in the
Earth and Sky
Social Studies: IV Individual Development and
Identity (b)
Grades 5 - 8
English Language Arts: 4
Science: D. Structure of the
Earth System and Earth’s
Social Studies: IV Individual Development and
Identity (b)
2. Give your introductory tour. Stop at the frames you
previously set up and act the part of a gallery curator.
Introduce the artwork by sharing:
Title of the work
Artist (e.g., Father Time, Mother Nature, wind, water, or
Composition of the piece (e.g., notice the subtle use of
color and shading)
Age of the work
Some interesting bit of information about the art
Here are some additional hints:
Show as much variety in your selections as possible.
Choose a close-up work. Place one frame so that the
viewer must stand in a particular location for the best
Grades 9 - 12
Encourage polite applause after viewing each piece.
Model behavior that respects the area and all things
living in it.
Play the part, as you feel comfortable. Dress up! Use an
accent! You can even act a little snobbish!
English Language Arts: 4
Environmental Education:
2.1.A - The Earth as a
Physical System, Processes
that Shape the Earth
Science: D - The Origin and
Evolution of the Earth
Social Studies: IV Individual Development and
Identity (a)
3. Invite the students to become curators. After viewing
your exhibits, invite the students to become art curators.
Individuals or small groups should select a frame and find a
“masterpiece” to share with the rest of the group. Frames
can be propped against natural objects, held in mid-air by
the curator, or hung in branches. Remind students that they
should be ready to introduce the art they chose.
Caution students to be careful in the gallery. Set rules for
what students can or cannot do. For example, stay on trails,
leave living things where they are, take care not to harm
nearby artwork when selecting or showcasing chosen
4. Encourage the young curators. Wander around as
students look for their masterpieces. Give them permission
to interpret, imagine, and speculate. Ask questions to help
them think about the art they find:
Who created this masterpiece?
When did the artist begin work? Is it a work-in-progress?
How old is the artwork? Will the artwork be here
tomorrow? Will it look the same in a year or two?
If you were the artist, would you have done anything
5. Tour the gallery. When everyone has found a masterpiece
to share, gather for the tour. Curators should tell visitors
where to stand to best view the artwork they have selected.
Prompt the curators to share the title, artist, and interesting
information about the artwork. Allow spectators to ask
questions, but permit the curators to leave some questions
unanswered. Don’t forget the applause!
6. Remember this hint. While this activity can lead to all types
of discussions, don’t be tempted to share everything you
know about the items inside the picture frames. It really
doesn’t matter if they chose a rare flower, a glacial feature,
or an ordinary leaf! Keep things moving and allow the art to
speak for itself!
Adapted from an activity by teacher Mural Adams.
Follow these directions for students in preschool through grade 4.
1. Welcome the group. Tell the students that you were out for
a walk earlier and you found some beautiful “pictures”. Ask
them if they would like to see what you found.
2. Show the pictures. Stop at the pictures and tell the
students why you like them. Here are some things you
might share depending on the age of the students:
Color - “I really like this flower because purple is my
favorite color.” or “I’m amazed at how many different
colors of brown there are in this tree’s bark.”
Shape - “This mushroom looks like a ball.” or “I like this
leaf because it is shaped like a feather.”
Size - “Look how tall this tree is.” or “I chose a little
frame for this moss because the moss is so tiny. The
little frame helps you to see the moss better!”
Texture - “I love the rough look of this rock.” or “This
lichen reminds me of the surface of the moon.”
3. Pass out picture mats. Give students picture mats and
encourage them to use the frames to find pictures that they
like. When they have each found the perfect picture, tell
them to leave the frames and return to a predetermined
meeting spot.
4. Take a tour. As a group, walk through the area. When you
come across a frame, ask the student who placed it to tell
about the picture. You can prompt students by asking:
Why did you choose this picture?
What do you like about ______?
Is there anything special about it that we might not
5. Play with the picture mats. Stand, sit, or lie down together
and use the picture frames to frame trees, clouds, or
landscapes. Take a few moments to share your personal
thoughts. Tell why the place where you are is so special to
you. Encourage the students to do the same.
pixie cup lichen
Assessing Student Learning
Observe students’ attention to detail and design. Assess their
oral presentations. Ask older students to write entries for a
museum tour book that describes the pieces they selected.
Extending the Learning
Witness the impact of invasives. Visit an area that invasive
species have overtaken. How are the chosen works of art in
the invaded area different from the ones in the first area
visited? Which location is more inspirational? Which location
shows more diversity and interest?
Create personal masterpieces. Offer watercolors, paints,
crayons, or other art supplies so students can create their own
natural masterpieces. Hold the art session outdoors if possible
so that nature can be an inspiration. Express feelings of
appreciation for nature or frustration with invasives by creating
collages of pictures and/or words cut from magazines.
Finding Out More!
Drawing from Nature by Jim Arnosky ©1987. Instructions for
drawing water, land, plants, and animals. Grades 4 - 8.
Charcoal drawing by
Sarah, age 12
ir in My Di rt!
Gary Larson, creator of The Far Side cartoons, uses a worm
family to help us see how we often view nature through rosetinted glasses. After a few good laughs, students will be ready
to talk about the difference between loving nature and
understanding it. The story also prompts discussions about how
our view of nature influences resource management decisions.
Getting Ready
1. Read the story ahead of time.
Do you remember The Far Side cartoons? The creator, Gary
Larson, often picks biology-related topics for his cartoons. He is
very good at pointing out the irony in situations and helping
people to rethink the way they look at nature.
Doing the Activity
1. Before reading the story, discuss these questions:
What are some of the things you like the most about
What are some plants and animals that you don’t like?
2. Read the story. Share the story with the group, showing
select pictures as you read, or have students read the story
in small groups.
3. Discuss the story. When everyone is familiar with the
story, discuss these questions:
Have you ever romanticized a part of nature because
you thought it was cute, touching, or picturesque only to
find out you didn’t have the whole story? Encourage the
students to share stories and experiences of times when
they discovered “the rest of the story”.
Think about your favorite plants and animals. Why do
you like them? Think about the plants and animals you
don’t like. What is it that bothers you? Where do we get
these different attitudes towards living things?
Non-native Invasive Species Learning Kit produced by the United States Forest Service - Eastern Region
Discuss how our
perceptions of nature
influence how we care for it.
Understand that resource
management decisions are
viewed differently by
different people.
Realize the benefits of
becoming more ecologically
9 – adult
Group Size
10 - 20 preferred
Prep Time
Activity Time
45 - 60 minutes
Anywhere comfortable
Materials in Kit
There’s a Hair in My Dirt! A
Worm’s Story by Gary
National Education Standards
see next page
National Education Standards
Harriet didn’t just observe nature; she meddled with it.
What are some of the things that Harriet tried to “fix”?
For example, she threw the turtle in the pond, fed
introduced squirrels, “saved” a baby bird, and “rescued”
a prey animal. Have you ever acted like Harriet and tried
to “fix” nature?
Are natural resource managers trying to “fix” nature
when they set hunting seasons, conduct prescribed
burns, harvest trees, and control invasive species?
Harriet’s attempts to “fix” nature appear to be based on
her emotions. How are natural resource managers’
decisions different?
Why do decisions concerning the care of natural
resources stir such deep feelings within us? Do we
respond in the same way regardless of where the
resources are located? For example, would your
response to the misuse of natural resources in a distant
rain forest be the same as your response to the misuse
of resources in your own community?
At times, it seems Harriet thought nature was simply
there for her enjoyment. How can me-centered views of
nature influence decisions about the environment? How
might decisions made from the heart be different from
decisions made from the head? Is one way of reaching
decisions better than the other way? Is there any
common ground?
People brought many invasives to America for emotional
reasons, without considering ecological consequences.
For example, Eugene Schieffelin introduced starlings into
New York’s Central Park because he liked Shakespeare.
He wanted the birds that Shakespeare wrote about to
live in America. Starlings often take the best nesting sites
and leave native birds with less desirable homes. Now
that people have introduced starlings to America, do we
have a responsibility to manage their populations and
minimize their impacts on native species? Can you think
of other examples?
Some people get very upset when organizations,
agencies, or individuals try to control the populations of
invasive species. For example, mute swans are an
invasive species that is growing rapidly in population.
Scientists claim that swans are displacing native water
birds and disturbing the habitats where they live. Efforts
to control populations of mute swans by hunting, sharp
shooting, or egg addling are usually met with “save the
swan” protests. What are some reasons why people
would want to control swan populations? What are some
reasons why people would want to leave the swans
Grades 9 - 12
English Language Arts - 1
Environmental Education:
2.2.C - Systems and
Environmental Education:
2.4.A - Human/Environment
Science: F - Natural
Science: F - Environmental
white-footed mouse
Some people get upset when others cut invasive
buckthorn. They view buckthorn as green vegetation
with berries that birds will eat. They don’t think that a
native shrub is more valuable. Killing one plant to plant
another leaves the area temporarily barren, takes away
nesting sites, and costs money. From an ecological
perspective, the buckthorn is replacing native vegetation
that has provided food and cover for a diversity of
species for generations. Are there wrong and right sides
to this issue?
Do you think you are getting the information/education
you need to make decisions about the management of
natural resources?
What did the author mean when he said, “loving nature
is not the same as understanding it”? Do you think that
you “love” nature or “understand” it? Do you think it
would be best to “love” it, “understand” it, or “love and
understand” it?
What are some things you could do to become more
ecologically literate?
Assessing Student Learning
Observe student participation during the discussion.
Extending the Learning
Check out the funnies. Gary Larson has published numerous
collections of The Far Side cartoons. Ask students to find
cartoons that deal with issues of ecological literacy or that show
insights into how the natural world works. Share the cartoons in
class. Then invite students to create their own ecology-based
Make it personal. Harriet was ecologically illiterate. She looked
at nature through very human eyes and saw beauty vs.
destruction and love vs. injustice. Ask students to choose one
thing in nature that they “love” and one thing that they “hate.”
Then encourage them to find out at least one fact that helps
them rethink their feelings. For example, a student might “hate”
spiders, but learn to respect the diversity of webs that different
species of spiders make. Another student’s “love” of bunnies
might be shaken by the knowledge that cute bunnies eat their
own droppings.
Jargon Unplu gge d
With each new subject of study comes a new set of words.
Students will have fun playing this word game while they
become familiar with the terminology used to talk about invasive
Getting Ready
1. Select about 10 words from pages 27 -31 that you would
like to introduce to your students.
2. Copy one set of the word cards for each group.
3. Prepare pieces of identical scrap paper. For a class of 30
students, you will need about 300 pieces of paper to
introduce 10 words.
Words are often the key to knowledge. Since words mean
different things to different people in different situations, it is
important to be familiar with the meanings of words in a
particular field of study.
Consider the word “noxious”. What images come to your mind?
What would “noxious” mean to you if you were a member of a
hazardous materials team or a wastewater treatment specialist?
Here are a few other professions and the thoughts the word
“noxious” might invoke:
A chef might immediately remember how Teflon pans
produce noxious fumes when used at high temperatures.
A psychologist might think about a patient with aerophobia
(the fear of drafts and airborne noxious substances).
A doctor would probably remember a case of chemical
pneumonitis caused by the inhalation of noxious chlorine
An ethicist would recall a recent news story that illustrates
the corruption of society by noxious doctrines.
A plant ecologist would think about a noxious weed that is
dangerous to human health or damaging to the
Define key vocabulary
associated with invasive
Write dictionary style
definitions for unfamiliar
5 - 12
Group Size
Divide large groups into small
groups of 3 - 10 students
(about 6 is ideal!)
Prep Time
Activity Time
20 - 40 minutes
Materials in Booklet
copies of words and
definitions (pp. 27 - 31)
Materials Not Included
pieces of identical scrap
pencil for each student
National Education Standards
Grades 5 - 12
English Language Arts: 3
As you can see, words can have special meanings when
associated with a particular field of study. When you are familiar
Non-native Invasive Species Learning Kit produced by the United States Forest Service - Eastern Region
with the vocabulary, the subject is easier to understand. Have
fun learning these new words as they relate to non-native
invasive species.
Doing the Activity
1. Introduce the object of the game. See page 25.
2. Review the directions for playing and scoring. See page
3. Answer any questions. See FAQs on page 26.
4. Divide the students into groups. While a group of 6 is
ideal, group sizes can vary from 3 to 10 students.
5. Play!
Assessing Student Learning
Instruct students to use the vocabulary words in a new way.
Here are some ideas:
Create a crossword puzzle.
Develop questions for a game show like Who Wants to be a
Millionaire? or Jeopardy.
Write a story that uses the words in context.
Illustrate the words.
Dramatize the vocabulary using words or actions.
Extending the Learning
Solve an invasive logic problem. High school students who
need a challenging use of their new vocabulary could tackle the
problem on page 32.
wild parsnip leaf
Jargon Unplugged Game Directions
Object of Game
To score the most points by (a) inventing phony definitions that
trick fellow players and/or (b) choosing the correct definitions.
How to Play
1. The youngest person in the group is the leader.
2. The leader begins the game by secretly choosing a word card,
pronouncing the word, and spelling it for the other players.
3. The other players write the word down on their scraps of
paper, invent phony definitions, and initial their papers.
4. While the other players are creating their definitions, the
leader copies the correct definition from the card onto an
identical piece of scrap paper and hides the card.
5. The leader collects all the definitions, shuffles them, and
glances through them.
6. The leader reads all the definitions aloud to the rest of the
7. The leader then reads the definitions a second time so that
the other players can decide which definition they will vote
for as the “correct” definition.
8. Moving clockwise from the leader, each player indicates
which definition he/she thinks is the correct one. As each
player chooses a definition, the leader writes the player’s
initials on the corresponding scrap of paper.
9. After every player has guessed, the leader reveals the true
meaning and totals the scores.
10. The leader reads the Jargon Unplugged section on the card
to learn more about how the word is used to talk about
invasive species.
11. The player to the leader’s left becomes the new leader, and
play continues in the same manner.
How to Score
The first player with 20 points wins the game.
3 points - Awarded to any player who writes a definition that
is correct or very close to correct.
3 points - Awarded to the leader if no one picks the correct
2 points - Awarded to each player who picks the correct
1 point - Awarded to a player for each vote his/her phony
definition receives.
What if a player knows the correct definition of the word in
The player should write the definition on his/her scrap paper
and turn it in. If the definition is similar or very close, the leader
should tell the player that the definition is correct, award the
player 3 points, remind him/her not to vote in this round, and
remove the player’s definition from the game.
What if more than one player knows the correct definition?
The leader reads the correct definition and cancels the round.
Every player who submitted a correct definition receives 3
points. The play then continues with the next person clockwise
as the new leader.
Why should the leader take the time to look through all the
definitions before starting to read them?It is in the best
interest of the leader to read the definitions convincingly without
stumbling on poor handwriting or misspelled words. Remember,
if no one guesses the correct definition, the leader gets 3
How do you trick people into choosing your definition?
It helps to read the dictionary regularly! Try to be creative, yet
believable. Pick up on something familiar about the word and
invent a definition around it. If you can’t get people to vote for
your definitions, try to get people to laugh at them!
Why do we have to use identical pieces of scrap paper?
Some over-observant players may use the paper as a clue to
who wrote which definition.
Can you vote for your own definition?
Yes. You might do that to throw other players off, but you don’t
get a point for your vote.
Isn’t the person with the best vocabulary going to win?
Not necessarily. You don’t have to know the definitions to win. If
you can write definitions that will trick other players and keep a
straight face as the leaders read your definitions, you will do
garlic mustard
Air Bladder
(air BLAD-er)
adj. producing chemical compounds that can
affect the growth of nearby plants
n. a sac containing air that helps to maintain
bouyancy and assists in respiration
Jargon Unplugged
Jargon Unplugged
Under laboratory conditions, invasive spotted
knapweed appears to be an allelopathic plant.
It produces a chemical that can inhibit the
germination and root growth of native grasses
and trees, increasing its competitive
Invasive snakehead fish are capable of
breathing air using an air bladder that works
as a primitive lung. Most fish don’t have air
bladders. An air bladder is just one of several
special adaptations that allow invasive
snakehead fish to outcompete native fish.
n. extra weight in the hull of a ship to improve
its stability
n. a plant that completes its life cycle in two
Jargon Unplugged
Jargon Unplugged
Many non-native species arrived in America in
the ballast of ships. A long time ago, ships used
soil for ballast. These ships carried the seeds
and roots of many terrestrial non-native plants
such as spotted knapweed. More recently, ships
using water for ballast transported aquatic
invasive species such as zebra mussels.
Many invasive species are biennials. The first
year they grow a rosette of leaves and a
strong root. The second year they send up a
flowering stalk. Garlic mustard is an example
of an invasive biennial.
n. all the plants (flora) and animals (fauna) of
a particular region
adj. inducing the purging of the intestines,
especially a laxative
Jargon Unplugged
Jargon Unplugged
The biota of the Eastern Region of the United
States includes native, non-native, and
invasive species (i.e., all flowering plants,
non-flowering plants, animals, fungi, and
When a bird eats buckthorn berries, it gets a
severe case of diarrhea. The diarrhea causes
the bird to become dehydrated and prevents
it from getting the nutrition it needs to survive.
Unfortunately, birds quickly spread buckthorn
seeds when they eat the cathartic berries.
n. a substance or factor that will not promote
cancer by itself, but can make cancer-causing
agents more powerful
v. to deprive of leaves, especially prematurely
Jargon Unplugged
The latex that oozes out of leafy spurge plants
can cause severe dermatitis in humans and
animals. The sap is also a co-carcinogen.
Gypsy moths are an invasive insect pest of
northeastern forests. Each summer, the
hungry larvae can defoliate over 500 species
of trees and shrubs covering thousands of
adj. native to a particular area or region
v. to eliminate
Jargon Unplugged
Jargon Unplugged
We consider most plants and animals native
to the United States if they were present here
before European settlement. Chickadees are
endemic to New York state. Starlings, which
people introduced in the 1800s, are not
Because invasive species damage native
habitats, many people would like to eradicate
them from natural areas.
n. a disease-causing virus that is carried by
arthropods (e.g., yellow fever virus, St. Louis
encephalitis virus, and dengue virus)
n. food for domestic animals; fodder; animal
food for browsing or grazing
Jargon Unplugged
Jargon Unplugged
Plants and animals aren’t the only invasive
species that should be cause for concern.
West Nile Virus is an invasive flavivirus from
Africa, Europe, and the Middle East that
spreads to humans through mosquitoes.
Jargon Unplugged
Most domestic animals eat non-native forage
such as timothy hay, wheat, and oats.
n. a type of asexual reproduction that occurs
when part of a parent plant breaks off and
begins to grow independently
n. debris or excrement produced by insects
Jargon Unplugged
When boat motors cut hydrilla into pieces, the
pieces can form new plants. Fragmentation
enables hydrilla to be extremely invasive.
Jargon Unplugged
When gypsy moth caterpillar populations are
extremely high, you don’t have to look hard to
find the caterpillars. Simply stand still in the
forest. You will be able to hear the caterpillars
muching on leaves! Not only that, their frass
sounds like rain falling to the ground!
adj. relating to the current period marked by a
blending of species around the globe
adj. tending to invade healthy habitats
Jargon Unplugged
Some scientists call the current geological
period the Homogocene Era because invasive
species are blurring the distinctions between
natural communities. If this trend continues,
scientists fear that a small number of very
aggressive plants and animals will dominate
the world’s ecosystems.
Jargon Unplugged
Not all non-native species are invasive.
However, when a non-native species invades
a natural area, spreads rapidly, and displaces
native species, it is an invasive species.
n. a community consisting of only one
adj. naturally occuring in a specific area,
not introduced
Jargon Unplugged
Jargon Unplugged
When garlic mustard invaded the forest, it
outcompeted the native understory
vegetation and left behind a monoculture of
garlic mustard.
Scientists consider most plants and
animals native to the United States if they
were present in a given area before
European settlement. These species are
adapted to local growing conditions,
including predators and climate. Prairie
cordgrass is native to wet prairies in
We also cultivate monocultures of nonnative wheat, rice, oats, and other crops.
adj. occuring without the aid and/or benefits of
adj. not found living naturally in a particular
region or environment
Jargon Unplugged
Jargon Unplugged
People brought Queen Anne’s lace here from
Europe. Now it grows in fields, ditches,
fencerows, and pastures without any help
from people. It is a naturalized plant that is
common throughout eastern North America.
Nonindigenous species come from other
parts of the country or the world. While the
wild boar is native in its home countries in
Eurasia, it is a nonindigenous species here in
the United States.
adj. not originating in a particular place or
adj. harmful or destructive to agriculture or
human health
Jargon Unplugged
Jargon Unplugged
Every species is native to somewhere! When
people introduce a species native to one part
of the world into a new area, it is considered a
non-native species in that area. Black locust,
which is native to southern Ohio, is a nonnative species in northern Ohio.
Scientists placed giant hogweed on the
federal noxious weed list because of its
potential menace as a public health hazard.
Because it is a noxious weed, people cannot
legally sell, trade, or plant giant hogweed.
adj. tasty or edible
n. inflammation of the skin caused by
exposure to ultraviolet light
Jargon Unplugged
If leafy spurge leaves were palatable,
livestock might be more likely to eat them.
Because livestock do not eat them, leafy
spurge thrives while livestock consume the
diminishing numbers of native plants.
Jargon Unplugged
Wild parsnip sap sensitizes the skin to
ultraviolet radiation. This can result in severe
blistering and painful photodermatitis.
Because the inflammation is caused by plant
juices, it is called phyto-photodernatitis.
adj. producing abundant quantities of young
or fruit
n. a vegetative portion of a plant, such as a
bud or other offshoot, that is capable of
forming a new plant
Jargon Unplugged
One female zebra mussel can produce
30,000 to 1,000,000 eggs in one year.
Because they are so prolific, they can
outcompete other aquatic organisms.
Jargon Unplugged
Hydrilla plants produce turions (dormant
buds) on the stems and tubers on the roots.
These propagules can easily develop into
new plants. Both turions and tubers help
hydrilla spread rapidly.
Seed bank
n. seeds that lie dormant in the soil until
conditions are right for germination
n. a plant growing where it is not wanted
Jargon Unplugged
One reason it is so hard to get rid of invasive
plants is that the seeds can lie dormant in the
soil for years. Control efforts must continue
until all the seeds have germinated and the
seed bank is exhausted.
Jargon Unplugged
Homeowners plant cornflowers in
flowerbeds to beautify their homes. They
carefully remove dandelions and other
weeds so the cornflowers look nice. If
the cornflowers escape into nearby
natural areas, ecologists consider them
invasive weeds. Weeds can be native
species or non-native species.
1. Be sure you are familiar with
the terms used in the
problem. While most logic
problems contain everything
you need to solve them, it
will help you to know the
definitions of the words in
italics. See page 33.
2. While every clue gives you
information, not every clue
gives you information
needed to solve the
problem! Try to sort out the
clues that help you solve the
problem and focus on them.
3. Read the clues several
times. Each time you will
probably pick up another
hint or connection.
Invasive Logic Problem
It was a beautiful summer day, so Ashley decided to go for a walk.
She lived in northern Ohio and often walked along the country
roads near her home. On her walk, she saw six plants. When she
returned home, she identified the plants and, to her dismay,
discovered that all of them were invasive species! People had
introduced most of them from other locations. The plants had done
well in northern Ohio, and now they were completely naturalized.
They had done so well, in fact, that not only were they reproducing
rapidly without the aid of cultivation, they were taking over the
landscape! Can you name the plants she saw, their native country/
region, and their invasive category in northern Ohio?
1. Black locust, crown vetch, the plant on the invasive species
watch list, the targeted invasive species, and the plant from
southeastern Eurasia are all non-native invasive species.
2. The noxious weed has been in North America for about 400
years. It probably arrived here in soil ballast.
3. The plant from central Europe arrived in North America as a
contaminant in hay.
4. The shrub from Eurasia is common buckthorn.
5. Canada thistle, the plant on the invasive species watch list,
black locust, the targeted invasive species, and the plant
from Europe are all naturalized in northern Ohio.
6. Starting in the 1950s, road crews planted crown vetch in the
ditches and along the steep slopes of new highway
construction. Unfortunately, crown vetch is now an
established invasive species in many parts of North
America, including Ashley’s community.
7. Box elder has grown naturally in northern Ohio for as long
as there have been records.
8. The plant that is native to southern Ohio is a regional invasive
in northern Ohio. Farmers planted it because it could fix
nitrogen in the soil, and the wood made strong fenceposts.
9. The plant from southeastern Eurasia is a noxious weed.
10. Spotted knapweed is present in several Ohio counties.
Ecologists are concerned that it will become as invasive
here as it is in other states.
11. The plant from Europe grows quickly and spreads rapidly,
making it ideal for controlling soil erosion.
12. Most native species are not invasive. However, the plant
that is native to northern Ohio is a native invasive in
disturbed areas.
13. Even though the plant from southeastern United States is a
native of southern Ohio, it is not native to northern Ohio.
14. It is illegal to sell, trade, or plant Canada thistle.
15. One of Ohio’s targeted invasive species is a shrub from
Eurasia. Nurseries still sell these shrubs as ornamentals
even though they are highly invasive.
Solving the Problem
southeastern United States
northern Ohio
central Europe
native invasive
regional invasive
invasive species watch list
Grid Method - Make a grid like the one shown below. Your
goal is to isolate the solution by eliminating all other
possibilities. Use an “X” to indicate that you have ruled a
possibility out. Use an “O” to indicate that you have deduced a
possibility to be true. When you place an “O”, remember to “X”
all the other boxes in the same row and column! Also, be sure
to transfer information to both of the “region” grids whenever
targeted invasive
established invasive
Table Method - Cut out small pieces of paper and write one
piece of information on each paper. For this problem, you
will need 18 pieces of paper (i.e., 6 with plant names, 6 with
invasive categories, and 6 with countries/regions of origin).
Then make a table to keep track of the clues. As you
uncover information, place the pieces of paper in columns
and rows to reflect what you know and don’t know.
noxious weed
southeastern Eurasia
There are two ways to solve the problem. The table method is
often simpler, but the grid method is more foolproof!
black locust
box elder
Canada thistle
common buckthorn
crown vetch
spotted knapweed
central Europe
northern Ohio
southeastern Eurasia
southeastern United States
Native or indigenous species have been present in a region for
a long time. Ecologists consider a species native to North
America if it was here before European settlement. Synonym:
Non-native species are not native or naturally occurring within
a defined geographic area. Synonyms: nonindigenous, exotic,
Naturalized species are non-native species that can survive
outside of their native range without the aid and/or benefits of
cultivation. This means they regularly reproduce in the wild,
they spread and multiply to some degree, and their populations
persist over time.
Invasive species are naturalized, non-native species that
invade native communities. Invasive species display rapid
growth and spread, reproduce at high levels by producing many
offspring (seeds or young), establish over large areas, persist,
outcompete native species, and disrupt ecological processes.
Noxious species are invasive species that pose a risk to
human health, agriculture, commerce, or wildlife resources.
Noxious species cannot be sold, traded, or planted. Some
plants are on a federal noxious weed list; others are on state,
county, or community lists.
Targeted invasive species are invasive species that a country,
state, or community is actively trying to control. The goal with
these species is to prevent them from entering an area, stop
them from spreading any further, or, ideally, to eliminate
existing populations.
Plants on an invasive species watch list are known to be
highly invasive and difficult to control in neighboring areas.
Ecologists place them on a watch list until they can determine
their local distribution and invasiveness.
Established invasive species have been present in an area
for an extended period. There is little possibility of removing
them. Often efforts focus on preventing their spread to new
An invasive native is less common than a non-native invasive
is, but it is possible. Sometimes a native plant becomes
invasive when a site becomes disturbed or other local
conditions change.
A regional invasive is a species that is native to the country,
but not native to the local area. Species can naturally extend
their ranges. However, ecologists use the term regional
invasive to refer to a species that people moved into a new
area, either accidentally or intentionally.
There are many ways to solve the problem. If students are
stuck, give them parts of the solution and allow them to try
again. The order that clues are incorporated doesn’t matter.
Here is one way to use the clues to solve the problem.
The five plants that are non-native invasive species are in the first
clue (1). The sixth plant is box elder that grows in northern Ohio,
as well as other parts of eastern and central United States (7).
black locust
crown vetch
invasive species watch list
targeted invasive species
southeastern Eurasia
northern Ohio
box elder
The plant from southeastern Eurasia is a noxious weed (9), and
Canada thistle must be the noxious weed because it is illegal to
sell, trade, or plant it (14). Crown vetch is an established
invasive species (6).
black locust
crown vetch
established invasive
invasive species watch list
targeted invasive species
Canada thistle
noxious weed
box elder
southeastern Eurasia
northern Ohio
The targeted invasive species is a shrub from Eurasia (15), and
the shrub from Eurasia is common buckthorn (4).
black locust
crown vetch
established invasive
invasive species watch list
common buckthorn
targeted invasive species
Canada thistle
noxious weed
southeastern Eurasia
box elder
northern Ohio
The plant from southern Ohio is a regional invasive (8, 13).
There is only one place in the table this information can fit. That
means, unless you figured this out long ago, box elder is the
invasive native (7, 12), and spotted knapweed is the plant on
the invasive species watch list (10).
black locust
regional invasive
southeastern United States
crown vetch
established invasive
spotted knapweed
invasive species watch list
common buckthorn
targeted invasive species
Canada thistle
noxious weed
southeastern Eurasia
box elder
invasive native
northern Ohio
The plant from Europe is used to control soil erosion (11), and
crown vetch was used for this purpose (6). So, by process of
elimination, you have solved the puzzle!
black locust
regional invasive
southeastern United States
crown vetch
established invasive
spotted knapweed
invasive species watch list
central Europe
common buckthorn
targeted invasive species
Canada thistle
noxious weed
southeastern Eurasia
box elder
invasive native
northern Ohio
You didn’t need clues 2, 3, and 5 to solve the problem.
However, clue 5 would be a good test to be sure you are on the
right track.
Activity Crosswalk
Target Audiences
A c t iv it ie s
Pre sc h o o l - G ra d e 1
G ra d e 2 - 4
Mid d le S c h o o l
Subject Areas
F r e e ze
F ra m e
T h e re s a
H a ir in M y
D ir t !
A d u lt
Ja r g o n
U n p lu g g e d
H ig h S c h o o l
S c ie n c e
Primary Teaching Methods
S a l a m a n d e r W e b o f Li f e
S o c ia l S tu d ie s
M a th
La n g u a g e A rts
Fin e A rts
H a n d s-o n
In v e stig a tio n
G a me /S imu la tio n
Cre a tiv e Ex p re ssio n
A n a ly sis/S y n th e sis
D isc u ssio n /Eth ic s
S to ry
D ra ma tic Pre se n ta tio n
In sid e
O u tsid e
45 -6 0 min .
2 0 -40 min .
10 -2 0 p re fe rre d
ma ximu m 3 0 ,
d ivid e d in to
g ro u p s o f
3 - 10
10 -2 0 min .
10 -2 0 min .
10 -3 0 min .
G ro u p S ize
ma ximu m 2 0
p re fe rre d
ma ximu m 3 0 ,
d ivid e d in to
g ro u p s o f
8 -15
ma ximu m 3 0 ,
10 -15 p re fe rre d
A c t iv it ie s
B io d iv e rsity
S a l a m a n d e r W e b o f Li f e
F r e e ze
F ra m e
Ja r g o n
U n p lu g g e d
Id e n tific a tio n /A d a p ta tio n s
Key Messages
T h e re s a
H a ir in M y
D ir t !
Pre v e n tio n
Ea rly D e te c tio n /
R a p id R e sp o n se
Co n tro l/Ma n a g e me n t/
R e sto ra tio n
Instructor’s Knowledge
A q u a tic Ec o sy ste ms
Te rre stria l Ec o sy ste ms
In v a siv e Pla n ts
In v a siv e A n ima ls
Mimima l B a c k g ro u n d
A v e ra g e
A d v a n c e d K n o wle d g e
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