Oregon State University Study Documents Invasive Species Release by Science Teachers
by Judith Aquilar
Oregon State University recently released their findings of a study conducted regarding the introduction of invasive species by science teachers. It was presented on August 7, 2012 at the National Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. The study surveyed 2000 teachers from Florida, New York, Indiana, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, California, Connecticut, British Columbia, and Ontario and included focus groups and interviews with teachers, curriculum specialists and biological supply house owners and managers. The researchers found that one out of four educators who used live organisms in their classrooms released them into the wild after they were done using them. Some of the organisms included crayfish, elodea, amphibians, and mosquito fish.
For example, crayfish are often used to teach students about habitats and adaptation, and Elodea can be used to provide food and shelter for the crayfish. These organisms are popular to allow students to observe the behaviors of the crawfish as well as their structure and the function. It seems like a fantastic idea for inquiry-based learning in an elementary classroom. Unfortunately, however, the study found that teachers in Oregon stopped using the native Pacific Northwest crayfish due to their high mortality rate and instead began to order their crayfish from Louisiana. If these non-native Louisiana crayfish are eventually released into the wild, this poses a problem because they are not an indigenous organism if released into a local Pacific Northwest lake or stream and the diseases or parasites they carry are unknown.
The NSTA Position Statement for the Use of Live Animals specifically states that if used teachers must “refrain from releasing animals into non-indigenous environs.” Unfortunately, though, sometimes teachers don’t give this issue much thought. Oregon State University expert on invasive species, Sam Chan, advises teachers and suppliers to become educated about the introduction of invasive species. So what should teachers do? The easiest answer is probably to rely only on reputable sources for organisms, and use native species whenever possible. Plan ahead for care or disposal of the organisms once you’re finished with them in the classroom. If in doubt, there are resources available to help you decide the best option. These include:
- Your local veterinarian
- California Department of Fish and Game: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/
- Your local Animal Control
- Rescue Network: http://www.rescuenetwork.org
You can read the official news release from Oregon State University by visiting their web page.
by Michelle French
Since the public reviews of the Next Generation Science Standards have come to a close, like many primary teachers, I’ve been wondering what science will look like in kindergarten, first, and second grade classrooms. Learn More…
“SOL Grotto, 2012. 1368 glass tubes, paint. Fabrication: Matarozzi Pelsinger, Rael San Fratello Architects. SOL Grotto is a contemporary take on a grotto or Throeau’s cabin – a spartan retreat that is a space of solitude and close to nature – where one is presented with a mediated experience of water, coolness and light. The SOL Grotto also explores Solyndra’s role as a company S#@t Out of Luck. 1,368 of the 24 million high tech glass tubes destined to be destroyed as a casualty of their bankruptcy, are used in the installation. The tube’s original role as a light concentrating element is extended to transmit cool air into the space via the Venturi effect, to amplify sounds from the adjacent waterfall via the vibrations of the tubes cantilevering over the creek, and to create distorted views of the garden. The form of the electric blue array evokes Plato’s Allegory of the Cave where shadows, light and sounds can call reality into question.”
Responses from Readers:
Peter A’Hearn: Rush hour in little blue circle land.
by Valerie Joyner
Congratulations to CSTA member and STEM Educator, Katherine Schenkelberg, of West High School, in Torrance, CA! Katherine was recently awarded one of the 2013 Vernier/NSTA Technology Awards. An appointed panel of experts selected her for her innovative use of data-collection technology. “The use of data-collection technology in the classroom helps foster students’ interest in STEM education and provides them with engaging, hands-on opportunities for scientific investigation,” said David Vernier, co-founder of Vernier and a former physics teacher. “For ten years Vernier and NSTA have recognized innovative STEM educators through this award and this year’s winners are no exception – their projects and programs truly utilize the power of data-collection technology as part of the teaching and learning process.” Learn More…
by Tim Williamson
Members of the California Science Teachers Association are now in the process of voting for qualified CSTA members to fill the seven openings on the CSTA Board of Directors for the 2013-2015 term.
The election is being conducted electronically and opened for voting on April 16, 2013. Voting will close on May 16, 2013. All CSTA members were sent links to the online ballot. Members for whom we do not have current email addresses or who request a paper ballot have been mailed a ballot and candidate statements. Learn More…