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Invasive Species Mitigation

Name of Corresponding Unit Plan: Invasive Species

Grade Level: 6-12

Common Core Standards
RH/S.4. Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context.

WH/S.1. Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.

WH/S.9. Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Content Areas: Science, Language Arts

Recommended Length/Duration: Two or three 45-60 minute periods.

Learning Goals: Students will differentiate between the three major approaches to invasive species mitigation.

Students will provide evidence and a rational for determining the best mitigation approach for a particular invasive species.


  1. Initiate the discussion by asking the question, "What undesirable organism (pest) do you have around your home that you want to get rid of?" (e.g. mice, garden weeds, skunks, little brothers). Have the class choose one.
  2. Discuss all the ways you might be able to limit or irradicate the undesirable organism. Make a list on the board in four columns that will later be identified as mechanical, cultural, biological, chemical. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each as they are suggested.
  3. After the lists are made, ask students to title each column. The teacher will probably need to guide students to the standard terminology used in the exercise.
  4. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the four different approaches to invasive species mitigation. Guiding questions might include:
    • What is a mechanical/cultural/biological/chemical approach best for? What are its limitations?
    • What approach is easiest? Most difficult?
    • What approach does the least collateral damage? Most damage?
    • What approach is least expensive? Most expensive?
    • What combinations work best?
  5. Describe the task: students will be asked to design a mitigation plan for a particular invasive species. They will need to think about what mitigation strategy, or combination of strategies, would be most effective with the least risk. They will need to explain their rational and provide supporting evidence to support their assertions.
  6. Determine if students will work independently or as part of a group. Assign, or have students choose, the invasive species they will try to mitigate. Students may use the worksheet to help organize their ideas. The plan should be presented as a short essay or oral presentation.
  7. Have students share their plans with the class or a small group. Have students challenge omissions or faulty reasoning.

Assessments: Plans should be assessed according to their factual accuracy, completeness, reasoning, and effort.

Materials/Resources: Invasive Species Mitigation worksheet (pdf)

Special Considerations: It may be helpful to group weaker students with stronger students.

Extension: Students may be interested in both successful and failed mitigation efforts. This could be the topic of a mini research project. This would be a good topic in which to explore the problems of "unintended consequences" and risk management.