AIS in the classroom

Reducing the risks of schools, science learning materials and biological supply houses as potential pathways for aquatic invasive species.

An international team of researchers, led by Oregon Sea Grant, is studying the importance of live organisms in promoting learning in classrooms and ways to increase awareness of aquatic invasive species and help prevent their spread and release.

Supported by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Oregon Sea Grant's specialist on aquatic invasive species, Sam Chan, at Oregon State University, is leading the research. Partners come from the University of Washington, the University of Illinois, Cornell University, the University of California, the University of Southern California, the University of Florida, the St Johns River Water Management District (in FL), the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment, and Fisheries and Ocean Canada.

The goals are to work with stakeholders (biological supply houses, schools, teachers, and curriculum developers) to i) describe how species are obtained and distributed, and ii) develop innovative, mutually beneficial solutions to AIS-related concerns. A coordinated effort to integrate appropriate tools into curriculum development and the supply and use of live organisms could increase awareness and help prevent the spread of invasive species.

"As researchers and educators, we acknowledge the educational value of live plants and animals," said Chan, "and this research does not seek to eliminate their use in the classroom."

The project will have three key phases:

  1. Develop a broad-based understanding of the issue by conducting surveys of teachers and curriculum specialists and interviews with managers of biological supply houses.
  2. Hold focus groups with stakeholders to design and develop appropriate solutions, and
  3. Develop and test outreach and education tools geared toward preventing the introduction of invasive species.

Expected outcomes include a peer-reviewed publication detailing the results of the research and field-tested outreach/education tools (brochures, DVDs, presentations, curricula, or databases) aimed at minimizing the spread of aquatic invasive species.

We are currently seeking stakeholder input into this research. Would you like to get involved? Please contact tania.siemens@oregonstate.edu to share your ideas, comments, participate or learn more about this project.

Main Project Website: