Geocaching for Invasive Species
Our vision is to have students understand that it is important to protect the plants and animals in our community. Therefore, we want to raise awareness of invasive species, by focusing on 3 specific examples found in our own neighbourhood. We’d like students to know a bit about the Asian Carp, Garlic Mustard, and Purple Loosestrife – what they are, what harm they can do, and ultimately, how every one of us can make a difference in helping to stop their impact.
We began by working in our school garden. We found out what had been planted there and started asking questions about why. We felt it was important to share with everyone the meaning of biodiversity and native species, so we created a class website. We knew we’d have to make the website exciting, so instead of just telling people about it, we made QR codes and tagged each plant species with a code. This meant that people could scan a plant and read all about the benefits of using this plant in their own garden! From there, we wanted people to understand about invasive species and the threat they pose to biodiversity. So after focusing on the concerns close to home, we picked the Asian Carp (found in our Great Lakes), Purple Loosestrife (seen nearby at Cootes Paradise), Emerald Ash Borer and Garlic Mustard (which was right on our school property!!!!)
We repeated the same QR code process, only this time, we hid the QR codes in a series of geocaching containers. Our school of 200 students was divided into “Tribes” groups, and we posed this challenge. Can you make a difference in the world by learning one thing to help fight an invasive species? Students then proceeded to scavenger hunt, finding our information. Headlines were included on our school website
“While they’re in their tribes, students will be challenged to become the “hero of the environment” – just like our Pan Am athletes are our heroes in sport. Using a series of clues, they will find geocaches around the Lakeshore property that contain information on local invasive species. They will learn about what to watch for and how they can help make a difference.”
and follow up headlines inviting families to take the challenge for themselves. We celebrated our commitment to making a difference by filling lanyards with stickers collected to help remind us of this important issue and strategies that we could all do to help. All of the researched information was added to our website as well.