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Ohio Sea Grant Extension and Stone Lab Develop New Education Tools | Ohio Sea Grant

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Ohio Sea Grant Extension and Stone Lab Develop New Education Tools

9:53 am, Wed July 7, 2021 – A Great Lakes Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Lesson Plan, along with Trash Trunk and Trash Tote outreach kits focused on marine debris and plastic pollution, bring real-world science and conservation efforts into classrooms and other education facilities

Ohio Sea Grant Extension educator Jill Bartolotta and Stone Lab education assistant Sue Bixler are continuing their work on marine debris and invasive species prevention with two new education tools for classroom teachers and informal educators. A Great Lakes Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Lesson Plan, along with Trash Trunk and Trash Tote outreach kits focused on marine debris and plastic pollution, bring real-world science and conservation efforts into classrooms and other education facilities.

Great Lakes Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Lesson Plan

the first page of a lesson plan

Download Lesson Plan

Plants and animals that come into an area from other places are known as non-native species. In most cases, these transplanted species aren’t able to survive and reproduce in their new ecosystem, but in a select few cases, they can establish themselves as strong competitors to native species. When they start to cause these kinds of problems, they become known as invasive species.

Invasive species arrive in the Great Lakes in a number of ways, such as ballast water, intentional or accidental dumping, and removal of barriers between bodies of water. When they become established – round gobies and zebra mussels are some examples from Lake Erie – they can damage indigenous ecosystems and negatively impact native species. This, in turn, affects economic drivers like sportfishing and tourism.

Scientists study invasive species because it helps people manage species that are already in the Great Lakes, and can prevent further spread of both current and future invasives. Great Lakes residents have a big role to play here – a number of current invasive species came to the area as ornamental plants or hitched a ride on a fishing boat, and some easy preventive steps anyone can take can make a big difference to the Great Lakes.

To introduce the problems associated with aquatic invasive species and some potential solutions to students in grades 5-8, Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab staff have created a free lesson plan for teachers. The materials help learners differentiate between native, non-native, and invasive species, identify Great Lakes invasives and outline why they are a problem, and suggest management recommendations.

The lesson plan is available as a free download at go.osu.edu/GLAISlesson, and aligns with Next Generation Science Standards, Ohio’s Model Science Curriculum, Ocean and Great Lakes Literacy Principles, and English Language Arts Standards.

It is best used with an invasive species education kit called an Attack Pack, which include examples of invasive species, along with information cards on each organisms. They can be borrowed at no charge from Ohio Sea Grant educators.

Trash Trunk and Trash Tote

a blue and white tote labeled Trash Tote, with educational materials and reusable containers surrounding it

Trash Totes can be borrowed from Ohio Sea Grant educators.

Single-use plastics are a part of everyone’s life at this point – takeout straws, plastic bags and water bottles are all easily accessible, and most people don’t really think about them much. But these convenient items stick around long after they’re no longer in use, and often end up in waterways, the Great Lakes, and the oceans. This plastic pollution is a threat to the environment, navigation safety, the economy, and human health.

But it’s also a threat everyone can help manage. By reducing consumption of single-use plastic items and educating others about making similar choices that work for them, people can make a difference in the amount of plastic that ends up in the environment.

To help educate students throughout the Great Lakes region, educators have created two outreach and education kits that address plastic pollution and offer simple solutions. The Trash Tote is filled with information cards, examples of macro- and microplastics, reusable alternatives, and beach cleanup supplies. The Trash Trunk contains lessons with supporting materials, information cards, and display items. These loanable kits are perfect for in classroom learning or a display table at an outreach event.

a grey Trash Trunk surrounded by colorful education materials and clean-up tools

Trash Trunks are available for educators to borrow at no charge.

To borrow a Trash Tote and Trash Trunk at no charge, please contact a local Ohio Sea Grant educator.

Project partners include Michigan Sea Grant, Wisconsin Sea Grant, the NOAA Marine Debris Program, the Ohio Clean Marinas Program and Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve. Funding was supported by the Center for Great Lakes Literacy and the NOAA Marine Debris Program.

ARTICLE TITLE: Ohio Sea Grant Extension and Stone Lab Develop New Education Tools PUBLISHED: 9:53 am, Wed July 7, 2021
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Christina Dierkes
Outreach Specialist, Ohio Sea Grant College Program

As Ohio Sea Grant’s science writer, Christina covers research, education and outreach projects in the Great Lakes for a wide range of audiences. She also produces online events like Stone Lab’s Guest Lecture Series and other outreach events, and manages social media for Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab.

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