In May 2013, James Byrne led his 7th grade Life Science class through a project focusing on the identification and eradication of invasive plants found on the school campus. The project started with learning vocabulary to help students identify ten of the common deciduous plants found on campus; eight of which were native and two were invasive. These invasives were scotch broom and himalayan blackberry. The project culminated with the students eradicating the scotch broom “enemy” that was on the campus.
James also created a simple leaf identification page that students used to help them identify plants by their leaves. A total of 60 7th graders among two classes participated in this project. These students were especially excited to learn the names of the plants that they didn’t already know. Many of the students even said that it was their favorite lesson/activity of the year; they loved the “battle” with the enemy (scotch broom). This project also helped cover the Inquiry standards and benchmarks for education.
Not only did the students learn in a new and exciting way, but they also benefited the school district by saving it both time and money on this project. Also, no chemicals were used that otherwise may have been. James explained that he was also “personally thanked by the district maintenance staff for the work that we did. The campus is one step closer to being eradicated of invasive species.”
The message of invasive species, especially scotch broom, eradication was spread to parents as students talked about their school projects at home. “The kids themselves will likely never forget it because they enjoyed the project so much,” James concluded.