Environmental Invaders


Sabrina Cook

Unit Title:

Environmental Invaders




Math (interdisciplinary with Science)

Estimated Duration:

10 Days

Unit Activities:

Activity 1: The Hook

Activity 2: Economy of your community

Activity 3: Excel Functions

Activity 4: The Challenge 


July 2015

Unit Academic Standard

Common Core State Standards -- Mathematics

Grade 7

  • Mathematical Practices
    • (CCSS.Math.Practice.MP4 ) Model with mathematics.
    • (CCSS.Math.Practice.MP5 ) Use appropriate tools strategically.
    • (CCSS.Math.Practice.MP6 ) Attend to precision.
  • The Number System
    • (CCSS.Math.Content.7.NS.A ) Apply and extend previous understandings of operations with fractions to add, subtract, multiply, and divide rational numbers.
    •  (CCSS.Math.Content.7.NS.A.1d ) Apply properties of operations as strategies to add and subtract rational numbers.
    •  (CCSS.Math.Content.7.NS.A.2c ) Apply properties of operations as strategies to multiply and divide rational numbers.
    • (CCSS.Math.Content.7.NS.A.3 ) Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving the four operations with rational numbers.
    • (CCSS.Math.Content.7.RP.A.3) Use Proportional relationships to solve multistep ratio and percent problems
The Big Idea (including global relevance)

Invasive Species affecting communities - This summer we heard many news stories about sharks attacking swimmers near coastlines and manatees traveling further north than normal summers.  Students will investigate these and other ways that invasive species affect the coastlines they invade. 

Global Relevance –

Science - Interactions within an ecosystem, introducing an invasive species into an ecosystem

Math – Economics; Cost Analysis - how would the introduction of an invasive species affect the economy along the coastline?

The Essential Question

How does introducing an invasive species affect the ecosystem and economy of a community?

How do invasive species get introduced to ecosystems?

What are invasive species?

The Hook
The Challenge and Constraints

Description of Challenge (Either Product or Process is clearly explained below):

List the Constraints Applied

Your team has been hired to investigate a specific region of the United States and how the introduction of invasive species are affecting the ecosystem and economy of your community.  You will create a Public Service Announcement to inform people of these effects as well as how to prevent the spread of invasive species into their community.

Teams will be focusing on one region to complete their research

Time Constraints - if your team is not completed with research, you will need to find time to research outside of class

Anticipated Guiding Questions

What are invasive species?

How do they affect the ecosystems?

Does one invasive species affect different ecosystems differently?

How are these invasive species spread?

Do these invasive species affect humans at all?

Engineering Design Process (EDP)

How will students test or implement the solution? What is the evidence that the solution worked? Describe how the iterative process from the EDP applies to your Challenge.

Identify and Define - Hook

Gather Information - Economics Research of your community, how is the introduction of an invasive species affecting the economy there

Identify Alternatives - How can the community begin to eradicate, contain, or utilize the invasive species to ensure it does not affect the economy?

Select Solutions - Based on all of your research, how can your team inform the public about the invasive species, the effects on your economy, and ways to stop the spread to other surrounding communities? 

The solutions will be presented using multimedia and incorporating information students have learned in regards to the effects of the invasive species on the ecosystem as well as the economy.  Students will add images to their presentation including graphs, which will help the public understand the importance of this issue.  Each Teams Public Service Announcement will be presented during class to receive feedback and a rubric score. 

How will students present or defend the solution?  Describe if any formal training or resource guides will be provided to the students for best practices (e.g., poster, flyer, video, advertisement, etc.) used to present work.

Students will create a public service announcement to inform the public of their findings throughout this challenge.  Students will include environmental and economic effects of these invasive species, and how the general public can help to deter their spread.  This announcement will be completed using multimedia of different forms (options will include videos, powerpoint, prezi, etc.).

What academic content is being taught through this Challenge?

Economics; Cost Analysis – Excel will be taught through this Challenge

All other math will be taught before the beginning of the unit.

Unit Activities

Lesson 1 – How do Invasive Species affect Humans?

Activity 1 – The Hook

Unit Day 1 - 1 Day both Math and Science Classes (110 minutes total)

  • Introduction to the Big idea – Video about recent shark attacks on the East Coast being caused by global climate change https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjO94Q_QpAE “Why the Uptick in Shark Attacks” – CNN or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPjCP91Bqrw “Shark attacks to spike this summer?”- CNN
  • Brainstorm guiding questions students have about the videos they watched
  • Come together as a class to share guiding questions/Organize these questions under major umbrella topics
  • Two ways that these invasive species are brought into our waters are through the shipping industry and global climate change.  Watch videos on each : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYIJdhw8NcA “Silent Invaders Ballast Water 2013” – North American Fishing and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38jYU9bNeAc “Climate change: Sea Invaders: Lion Fish spreading in USA” – CNN Nightly News
  • Based on the information you’ve learned, your team will brainstorm challenge ideas
  • (Final challenge will be for teams to create a public service announcement to inform people of the environmental and economic effects of invasive species, and how to prevent these from continuing to enter their environments)

Activity 2 – Economics Research (Worksheet 2.1.02b)

Unit Days 2 and 3

Day 2 – Investigate the economy of your region.  What do people in the community do to make money?  Does your community have a lot of tourism, shipping, fishing, agriculture, etc.?

Day 3 – Based on your research, how could the introduction of the invasive species affect the economy? 

Lesson 2 – What can we do about it?

Activity 3 – Use Excel to analyze how the invasive species could affect the economy of your region. (Instructions worksheet 2.2.03e; utilize google sheets)

Unit Days 4 and 5 

Day 4 – Introduction to Excel and formulas

Students will be able to use excel to manipulate income within the community based on the introduction of the invasive species

Day 5 – Creating graphs using Excel

Example - If the introduction of the invasive species decreased the tourism by 10% each month during summer months in South Carolina, what would this look like as a graph?       

Activity 4 – The Challenge –

Unit Days 6-10- Both Science and Math Classes

Design and Create a public service announcement that will show the public the effects of the ecosystem and economy due to invasive species.  Include what the public can do to prevent the spread of these invaders, and use your creativity (5 days total in both classes)

Day 1 - Begin your script; include a catchy introduction and roles for each team member

Day 2 - Complete your script; make sure you have images, writing, and speaking plans for your final product

Day 3 - Begin recording or putting your announcement together (can use powerpoint/movie maker, and insert video clips, or videotape)

Day 4 - Finishing touches on your presentation, practice any pieces that will be presented in person

Day 5 - Watch and score all public service announcements

Additional Resources

Research Resources:

Pre-Unit and Post-Unit Assessment Instrument

Students will be given a pre and post unit assessment for this unit.  They will also be graded on a rubric based on the information in their multimedia presentation.


Overall, this unit was a good use of technology, introducing the students to group work, and using math in everyday life tasks.  Students were able to use technology to apply their math content to real world situations.  Many students see and hear their parents working on budgets, and discussing money. This was a way for students to see what excel (google sheets) could be used for, and give them the ability to work with percent decrease. 

Specifically, students had not yet been taught about percent in class.  The beginning of the year here was a difficult and trying time.  Student’s schedules were adjusted multiple times, and I was given this class a mere two weeks before beginning this project.  That was an unforeseen challenge that affected the in depth knowledge of students and groups.  We were in the midst of getting to know each other, and see what their prior teachers had worked with them on, when we needed to begin this project. (which could not be pushed back any due to my maternity leave).  In the end, I believe that we managed to make it through this unit with a little more support than I had planned.