The alien species problem studied and told
Every year, the Ishigaki Municipal Ibaruma Junior High School organizes an environmental education program for its first year students, which includes biological experiments and focuses on the island’s invasive species, Marine Toads, to improve awareness for and interest towards biodiversity conservation.
For the past 5 years, the Ishigaki Municipal Ibaruma Junior High School has organized an environmental education program for its first year students to improve awareness of and cultivate interest in biodiversity conservation. The program focuses on the island’s invasive species, the Marine Toad, and welcomes rangers from the Ministry of the Environment and local nature guides, etc. as guest teachers.
The program is comprised of these 4 basic components:
(1) What is an alien species?
(2) Study of Marine Toads’ stomach contents
(3) A discussion on alien species
(4) Let’s share knowledge about alien species (teaching at elementary schools)
In the first class, the program covers the basics. To get students interested, the class plays games to answer questions such as: What are alien species? How do ecosystems work? What effects do alien species have on the environment?
In the second class, students dissect Marine Toads previously caught near the school and frozen in order to take a look at their stomach contents. Marine Toads were originally imported from Central-South America to help get rid of a sugar cane pest commonly known as the scarab beetle (Anomala albopilosa). By dissecting toads collected from various parts of the island, students discover that they live on a wide range of small organisms.
In the third class, students take an imaginary island and theorize about the introduction of alien species for pest control. This would be an insecticide-free way of eradicating pests, but it could affect the ecosystem. Depending on what side the students argue from, their priorities differ, and by doing so they realize that issues surrounding alien species are quite complex.
In the fourth class, the junior high school students teach children in local elementary schools about alien species. Preparing for their class gives them an opportunity to review everything that they have learned, reorganize their thoughts, and create quizzes and skits that communicate the essentials in a fun and easy to understand manner.