• Mt Reynolds

    Glacier

    National Park Montana

Plant Invaders-Citizen Science Field Trip

lessonplanmountains
 

Grade: 8-12
Subject: Science
Skills: Observe, communicate, identify, classify, record
Duration: 4 hours
Group Size: 45-60 total, 2 groups of 20 -30 students
Setting: First 2 miles of lower elevation trails in the park
Vocabulary: See the bolded words in the objectives below.

Summary: Students will become "Citizen Scientists" and hike less than 2 miles to permanently established research plots to collect data on the percent cover of native and non-native, invasive plants. Students will return to school and enter their information into a Google Document to add their data to the information from previous visits of other schools. They will analyze and look for patterns as the database builds each year.

Objectives: (These are examples of some of the objectives that can be achieved on a "Plant Invaders" program. Many others are possible depending on the teacher's focus and the ranger.) Students will be able to:

  • Tell what national parks protect and one reason Glacier National Park was established.
  • Explain why Glacier National Park is concerned about the spread of non-native, invasive plants and the loss of native plant communities.
  • List 3 native plants and their uses by wildlife and people (including traditional uses by the Blackfeet, Salish, Kootenai, or Pend d-Oreille).
  • Use a field guide to identify four different species of non-native, invasive plants classified by the state as "noxious weeds."
  • Work cooperatively with classmates to locate and record data on the occurrences of the four targeted non-native, invasive plants along the assigned trail.
  • Use a GPS to locate permanent vegetation transects to record data on non-native, invasive plants.
  • Use a topographic map to correlate historic information about infestations and past treatments on non-native, invasive plants along the trail.
  • Accurately complete a data sheet for recording observations of percent cover of non-native, invasive plants following the established protocols.
  • Define "Citizen Science" and give one reason national parks are training people to collect data in parks and one reason many scientists don't think this is real science.
  • Explain why Glacier does not ask all visitors to pull non-native, invasive plants whenever they see them.
  • Input data into an Excel spreadsheet and analyze it to formulate a plan for management.
  • Recognize patterns from the data collected on the trail and infer why non-native, invasive plants may be found more commonly in some areas of the park than others.
  • Identify non-native, invasive plants in the local community and research local and state regulations about what is being done, and what more could be done, to control the spread of weeds.

Montana Content and Performance Standards:

MT.SCI.K-12.1 Students, through the inquiry process, demonstrate the ability to design, conduct, evaluate, and communicate results and reasonable conclusions of scientific investigations.
MT.SCI.K-12.3 Students, through the inquiry process, demonstrate knowledge of characteristics, structures, and function of living things, the process and diversity of life, and how living organisms interact with each other and their environment.

 
bear grass

Bear grass

NPS Photo

Making Connections to Glacier National Park:

Glacier National Park covers an area that is a crossroads between three floristic provinces with numerous native species on the edges of their ranges. The spread of non-native, invasive plants threatens native communities and the actions of people are key to assisting in reducing their spread.

 

Field Trip Logistics:

Teachers wishing to have thier students participate in the "Plant Invaders" field trip should plan to arrive at Apgar by 10:00 a.m. and stay until 1:30p.m. Everyone in the group must be prepared to be outside for the entire program and be able to hike up to 4 miles over varied terrain.

Did You Know?

Grizzly bears

Grizzly bears in the park have a wide variety of food sources, including glacier lily bulbs, insects, and berries. They may also make an early season meal of mountain goats that were swept down in avalanches over the winter.