A lesson in invasive species
The seventh grade science students at Triton Middle School got a lesson in invasive species last week in preparation for an ecology project that will have them presenting their findings to the public tomorrow afternoon.
Jacob Froyum, a forester from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Faribault office, told the students about a number of common invasive species that have made their way into Minnesota. Armed with the information they received from Froyum, along with additional investigation into the topic, the students will present what they have learned and their solutions to the invasive species problem to the public tomorrow afternoon.
Froyum talked about a number of problem plants, some well-known and others more obscure.
He talked about wild parsnip, cow parsnip, garlic mustard, oriental bittersweet, Japanese barberry, bird’s foot trefoil, exotic honeysuckle, spotted knapweed, leafy spurge, Siberian elm and others. Although the majority of his talk was about invasive plants, he also touched on the Emerald ash borer, which has been detected in many southern Minnesota counties, including Dodge County. It also recently was detected in Steele County.
Some of these invasive species were brought here accidently or unknowingly while others were intentionally planted in yards and urban areas but overtook other native plants when they spread into the wild.
He described each plant, explained a bit of how it got here and gave some tips on how to eradicate it or keep it from spreading further.
After Froyum’s presentation, the students have spent their time this week in Chelsey Baumbach’s classes doing additional research on invasive species and developing action plans to keep the plants from causing additional problems.
These action plans will be presented to the public and the students will be available to explain why they think they will work.
The students are currently doing an ecology unit, Baumbach said. She said she attended a conference over the summer that addressed “program based learning” and she thought this project would fit in well with that idea.
Project based learning involves getting students involved in real issues and real problem solving as opposed to just teaching from a textbook. By presenting their solutions to the community, the students will also learn skills needed to interact with others in a real life situation, she said. Since this interaction is similar to what Froyum does in his job, she said, it also gives students an opportunity to get an idea of a type of work they may be interested in.
The students will be available in an open-house style event Friday from 2:25-3:10 p.m. in the Middle School gym. They will have displays similar to what one would see at a science fair to help with their explanations.