Aquatic Invasive Species Education Project

Introduction and Spread

The introduction and spread of invasive aquatic species is almost always attributed to human actions- either accidentally or deliberately. Some of the deliberate introductions were to meet a need that was apparent at the time. This module will use activities that show students how and why different invasive aquatic species were introduced. Species highlighted in this module include the Asian Grass Carp, Blue Catfish, Northern Snakeheads, Red-eared Sliders, Rusty Crayfish, and Zebra Mussels.

Zebra Mussels covering a propeller by the Government of Alberta
Zebra Mussels covering a propeller by the Government of Alberta

Lesson plans were developed and field tested by local educators. Lesson plans are grouped by modules which are bound by a common theme.  Each lesson plan has been aligned with Next Generation Science Standards, Common Core Standards, and Maryland Environmental Literacy Standards. Lesson plans in each module include activities suitable for Grades 3-12. To download the module, click the link below. 

Introduction and Spread of Invasive Species Button

A Problem with Hitchhikers -- Grades 9-12
Students will learn about the introduction and spread of Zebra Mussels through a research and mapping exercise.

Blue Catfish: Friend or Foe -- Grades 9-12
Students will learn about the introduction and spread of Blue Catfish and will determine if further introductions should occur by conducting research.

Blue Catfish- Going Fishing -- Grades 3-8
Students will learn about the spread and impacts of Blue Catfish through an active simulation.

Crayfish Compete -- Grades 3-8
Students will learn about the impacts of Rusty Crayfish and will simulate how Rusty Crayfish compete with native Crayfish for food.

Crayfish Release -- Grades 9-12
Students will learn about the impacts of Rusty Crayfish and will simulate what happens when just a few Rusty Crayfish are released into a lake.

Invaders at Taylors Pond -- Grades 9-12
Students will learn about the impacts of Asian Grass Carp and will read and discuss a fictional scenario in which Grass Carp are released into a pond.

Invasion of the Snakehead -- Grades 9-12
Students will learn about the impacts of Northern Snakeheads and will explore the introduction and spread of this species in the Mid-Atlantic.

Is it a Snakehead? -- Grades 3-8
Students will learn about the problems with Northern Snakeheads, how they are introduced and spread, and will learn how to identify Northern Snakeheads in order to educate others.

Not Wanted: Invasive Ninja Turtles -- Grades 6-12
Students will learn about the impacts of Red-eared Sliders, how they are introduced, and will simulate the spread of Red-eared Sliders in a pond ecosystem.

The Grass Carp Dilemma -- Grades 6-12
Students will learn about the impacts of Asian Grass Carp and will role play as different community groups to debate whether or not Grass Carp should be introduced to remove the invasive plant, Hydrilla.

Unlikely Cargo -- Grades 3-5
Students will simulate the dispersal of Zebra Mussels through ship’s “cargo”

Zebra Mussels: Coming to a Water Near You -- Grades 6-12
Students will learn about the introduction and spread of Zebra Mussels through a research and mapping exercise.

Education Kits

Aquatic Invasive Species Education kits are also available with printed lesson plans, activity resources, and hands-on items to teach about the 16 species highlighted in the modules.

To borrow a free kit in Maryland, please click here to find a location nearest you.

To find a kit in Delaware, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington D.C., or West Virginia, please click here.