- (09life6b) -- Analyze changes in an ecosystem resulting from changes in climate,
human activity, introduction of non-native species, on changes in population size.
(9-12 Life Science 6b)
- (09iexx1i) -- Analyze the locations, sequences, on time intervals of natural
phenomena (including succession of a species over time). (9-12 Investigation
- (09iexx1m) -- Investigate a science-based societal issue by researching the
literature, analyzing data, and communicating the findings. (9-12 Investigation
The research project may be used with Biology, Environmental Science, and
Integrated Science courses at the high school level. It was prepared as a guide for
students to explore the impact that human activity may have on an ecosystem and the
variety of societal issues that intervene in science issues.
Background for Teachers
The Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA) has spread throughout the Southeastern
United States and, more recently, into Orange, San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, Riverside,
and Kern Counties of California. This species of ant is not indigenous to the United
States. The growth of its habitat has created problems in the agricultural sector of our
Nations economy. Also, this species of ant is aggressive and poses a threat to
animals and people who encroach on a RIFA hill. Researchers have not yet found a safe
reliable method to eradicate the Red Imported Fire Ant. The State of California Department
of Food and Agriculture (DFA) has delegated authority for handling the Red Imported Fire
Ant problem to local governmental agencies.
Classroom Management Suggestions
- Several methods of group formation exist for this project. First, as
suggested by the instructions, groups of between 2 and 4 students will undertake the role
of one person. Their products will be the result of negotiations at each step in the
project and represent the work of one person. Second, as an alternative, groups of
up to 5 students may be formed with each student taking on one role. Completed
action plans may be submitted as a product.
- Research in the school library should also be included. Depending upon your
resources, students may be assigned library time and computer time in order to access more
sources. Discuss the project with your school librarian to determine the extent of
the available print sources.
- The fictional newspaper article, letter from the school district to the board of supervisors, and
the notice of public hearing may be viewed by following the
links provided. These should be printed, copied, and distributed to your
students. You may adapt these to your community by saving the text to your computer
and editing the text as you require.
- The public hearing is an essential component of this activity and can provide a
"real life" situation for your students. You may wish to select from 3 to
7 students to serve as County Supervisors (always using an odd number for voting purposes)
to hear the public testimony. One student should act as the chairperson of the
commission and run the hearing. Simple ground rules should include students stating
their name, address, and organization at the beginning, limiting testimony to an
appropriate time length with a brief period of time allotted for supervisors to questions
those making public statements, and a period of time in which the County Supervisors
deliberate to discuss and formulate a plan of action (to be conducted in public).
The project may be adapted to fit local pest infestations including
- killer bees,
- Argentinean ants,
- medfly, and
- current problems confronting the eucalyptus trees.
As an extension, student may investigate the use of biological controls of pest
populations including plants and animals.
Photos are used by permission of
Dr. B. M. Drees
Texas Fire Ant Project Coordinator
Texas A&M University
Time required to complete this project will vary depending upon the resources
available to teachers. In my classroom, I have a computer minilab consisting of 6
work stations with internet connections. Also, several students may go to the
library each day to work either online or off-line depending on the student load.
This activity would take approximately 6 to 7 class periods of 55 minutes.
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