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Student Scientists Take On Invasive Species

Student Scientists Take On Invasive Species

On the first day of VISTA’s Elementary Science Institute summer camp, dozens of children from high needs schools became real world “student scientists,” working with area teachers to research, discover, create and present strategies for managing a species that is invading Virginia waterways – the snakehead fish.

The students were excited to dissect an actual snakehead fish; use microscopes to analyze various parts of the fish; and analyze strategies for stopping the spread of the ubiquitous organism, which can lay up to 15 thousand eggs and live on land for up to four days!  

Meanwhile, the ESI teachers were enjoying teaching active, hands-on science that incorporates problem-based learning. [Note: the ESI teachers contacted a regional representative from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for the snakehead fish samples.]

If you’re a teacher and you’re interested in incorporating this lesson, read on for the manufactured “scenario” presented by the VISTA teachers.

The scenario:

We are under attack!

Over the past decade there has been an invader to our Virginia waterways. Observations have been: they are crawling from one habitat to another, one fish can lay up to 15 thousand eggs, and they can live on land for up to four days…and this is on a bad day! Just imagine the impact on Virginia waterways over a period of time!

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) needs our help. The attacker is called a snakehead. As part of the Wildlife Services National Snakehead Control and Management Plan (SCMP) Work Group, your job is to research, discover, create and present different management strategies to help control the snakehead population. You will present your findings to a panel of DGIF experts. 

We look forward to hearing your plans.


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