Fish Invaders at Gypsy Point: Katie and George Learn About Alternatives to Aquarium Dumping
3rd – 6th Grade Standards Correlated Lesson Plans
USC Sea Grant
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Why Teach Stewardship?
In upper elementary students are learning about the relationships of organisms with the environment and the role humans have on impacting the natural environment. They learn about regional and national geography. We are a nation of immigrants bringing many different cultures with us to form a strong union, governed by laws that protect the people, natural resources, and the economy. As we help students to understand their place in the world, whether in an urban setting or rural neighborhood, they learn to make observations and develop a connection with nature.
Pet ownership includes giving pets all they need and making certain our pets don't hurt the natural world. Ensuring protection of the surrounding natural world is part of being a responsible pet owner. Putting a bell on a cat so it doesn't catch birds, cleaning up after our dog so its wastes don't pollute the watershed, and not releasing aquatic organisms are all important lessons that students need to be responsible pet owners. These lessons help build an awareness of the natural world in our communities and an understanding of protecting nature. Students become enamored with films such as Finding Nemo and must learn the balance between imagination and the importance of not releasing animals into the ocean or natural habitats. While some natural changes in habitat ranges occur with human introduction of species, we can upset entire ecosystems.
These lessons are broken down into introductory activities prior to reading, strategies for reading the book and extensions to use following reading. All of the lessons tie to California grade level standards, National Science Standards, Education in the Environment Principles and Concepts and National Ocean Literacy Concepts. These lessons were developed for classroom teachers, as teachers are some of the best models for students as they learn about their place in the world.
Species introduction has occurred as long as people have moved from one location to another whether exploring or relocating. Ships placed animals on islands so there would be food for the return trip back. Immigrants brought their favorite herbs to plant to make their new home feel just like home. The impact of introduced/non-native species is much better understood and eradication programs are underway to remove invasives. One example has been the effort to remove wild pigs from the California Channel Islands where they have disturbed roots, destabilizing the native oaks and ironwood trees while foraging. While they were a food source for golden eagles, the eagles also fed on island foxes causing them to be threatened.
Invasive species can upset entire economic systems as well, such as the mitten crabs pushing out the native crabs caught by the fishing industry in Northern California. Caulerpa sp was introduced in California and with quick (as well as costly) response it was stopped. The risk of damaging the coastal nurseries for a vast number of species is tremendous. We all have a responsibility to protect our natural world and our students can be the teachers to adults in their lives who may not know the best choices when dealing with pets and in protecting the natural world for their future.
The lessons associated with Fish Invaders at Gypsy Point include