Native vs. Non-native Species: Who Will Win? Lesson Plan
Conduct this session in the schoolyard.
- Provide students with clipboards (if available) and copies of the Non-native Plants in the Schoolyard lab sheet PDF • Word.
- Also provide gardening books and guidebooks for trees and wildflowers (see Resources).
- Explain to students that while the organisms detailed on the students' posters cause significant problems to the ecosystems in which they are introduced, other non-native species cause problems that are not as obvious. Ask students whether they think the schoolyard has any non-native plants.
- Discuss the question on the lab sheet: "How many of the plants in our schoolyard are native to Virginia, and how many are non-native?" Direct students to form their hypotheses, noting that the two percentages must add up to equal 100 percent. Follow the procedures detailed on the lab sheet.
Conclude the session in the classroom.
- Have students share their results, calculate the percentages, and then discuss and write their conclusions. Help students understand that many plants used in landscaping come from geographic regions that receive more rainfall than our region; as a result, we waste more water caring for these plants than native plants. Many non-native plants also require pesticides because they are not adapted to deal with the insects of our region, and they may need extra fertilizer if they are native to regions with soil richer in nutrients. Both pesticides and fertilizers, of course, can have adverse affects on the water and the people and wildlife that depend upon the watershed.