Invasive species are one of the greatest threats to BC’s biodiversity and have enormous ecological, social, and economic impacts. Educators can play a key role in increasing awareness and reducing the spread of invasive species by engaging their students in environmental learning. Teaching students about invasive species gives young people hands-on learning and stewardship opportunities that connect them to nature and community. In an age of overwhelming environmental issues, students can feel empowered, hopeful and learn that they can make a difference by participating in invasive species field studies and action projects. Invasive species projects have the potential to not only benefit students, but also the whole school culture and community at large. In this participatory workshop, the Invasive Species Council of BC’s new Invasive Species in the School Program will be profiled and new engagement strategies for both online and in-person teaching will be shared. Educators will participate in several hands-on activities, games and video Q and A sessions, receive detailed lesson plans and videos, and learn how they can access a classroom kit of resources, engage local support people for action projects and invite an expert into their classroom. Complete lesson plans connected to the BC Curriculum will be available for Grades 4 to 7, and several new primary activities and videos will also be shared. New lessons will also be profiled for High School Science Grades 11/12 (applicable for Environmental Science 11 and 12, Life Sciences 11, Science for Citizens 11, Specialized Science 12). These lessons incorporate action projects with volunteer hours that are required for graduation and include opportunities to work with and learn from biologists or other professionals for careers exploration. A key element of the action projects engages students in Citizen Science activities: engaging them in the practice of participating and collaborating in scientific research to increase scientific knowledge. Student citizen scientists can contribute to data monitoring and collection, and may analyze data, interpret results, and make new discoveries. Citizen science apps are an effective way for students to use technology while learning skills and topics such as species identification and distribution, biogeography, and conservation, while contributing data that furthers scientific knowledge and understanding. The Invasive Species in the School Program engages students in hands-on learning, gives them knowledge, skills and opportunities to deepen their connection to nature and community, brings environmental issues to life, and inspires students to take action and be solutions-oriented.
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Sue Staniforth is the Education and Outreach Manager for the Invasive Species Council of BC. Sue brings to her work over 25 years of experience as a biologist, educator, and curriculum developer. She has developed over a dozen learning resources on topics that range from Garry Oak ecosystems to invasive species and delivered hundreds of professional development workshops both provincially and nationally. Sue also has broad experience working with many stewardship groups, non-profits, communities, and First Nations at local, regional, provincial, and national levels.