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Invasive Species Affecting Ecosystems and Resources


  1. Students will understand the difference between native and non-native species.
  2. Students will know what an invasive species is.
  3. Students will be able to explain the impact of introducing invasive species into an ecosystem.
  4. Students will understand the importance of a balanced ecosystem.
  5. Students will use digital and/or physical tools to build a model.


4.LS2.4 Develop and use models to determine the effects of introducing a species to, or removing a species from, an ecosystem and how either one can damage the balance of an ecosystem.

4.ETS2.1 Use appropriate tools and measurements to build a model.

For additional support on using models, view this video or this article.


community of organisms that interact with each other and their environment
Invasive species
non-native species that are harmful to an ecosystem
physical or digital representation of a concept or a thing
Native species
species naturally found in an ecosystem
Non-native species
species not naturally found in an ecosystem but do not disrupt an ecosystem
a group of organisms that can reproduce naturally with one another but not with other groups

Prior Knowledge

2.LS2.1 Develop and use models to compare how animals depend on their surroundings and other living things to meet their needs in the places they live.

2.LS.2 Predict what happens to animals when the environment changes (temperature, cutting down trees, wildfires, pollution, salinity, drought, land preservation).

3.LS4.3 Explain how changes to an environment's biodiversity influence human resources.

Career Connections

  • TVA Ecologist (video)
    • What can you do as an ecologist? (video)
  • Natural Resources scientist

Materials Needed

  1. Lesson slide deck
  2. Mini-research task document
  3. Research notes guide
  4. Model (diagram) rubric


Activity One: Students learn about invasive species and the impact of Japanese honeysuckle plants on ecosystems.

Activity Two: Students learn about invasive species in Tennessee and construct a model to convey information about the impact of invasive species on an ecosystem.

Lesson Flow

Driving Question: How does the introduction of invasive species affect ecosystems?


Activity One (20-25 minutes)

Focus Question: What makes something an invasive species?

Crosscutting Concept (CCC): Patterns

Science and Engineering Practice (SEP): Science and Engineering Practice; Asking Questions and Defining Problems

Sequence of Learning:

  • Review the definition of species with this video.
  • View this map to answer: What do you notice? What do you wonder?

Invasive Species Lesson Map - STEM

Map source: University of Maryland Extension Invasive in Your Woodland.

Additional questions for viewing the map:

  • If Japanese honeysuckle is not naturally found in the United States, how did it get here? How did it spread?
  • Do you see any patterns on the map?
  • Can you make predictions about which characteristics of ecosystems allow the Japanese honeysuckle to thrive?

More information about invasive species

  • Learn more about Japanese Suckle.
  • Watch this National Park Service video to learn the definition of invasive species.
  • Read this article on invasive species from Wonderopolis. Students turn to a classmate and explain the difference between invasive species and native species.
    • TEACHER NOTE: You may have to clarify the difference between a nuisance and invasive species if students bring it up.
      • Example: In a yard, there are several redbud trees – their seeds come up everywhere each spring - seems like I get them all pulled up, and it starts all over again. Since these are native trees, they are a nuisance but not invasive.
  • Mini-research task
    • Students (independently or with partners) read the Japanese honeysuckle fact sheet 1 and fact sheet 2 to answer the questions in the mini-research task document.
  • Facilitate review discussion with the whole class to check for understanding: How do we know that the Japanese honeysuckle is an invasive species?
    • Facilitation note: Ask students to turn over their research documents in order to glean what students remember, not just read off the page.

Activity Two (30-60 Minutes)

Focus Question: How can we, as TVA ecologists, create a model to explain how invasive species impact an ecosystem?

Crosscutting Concept (CCC): Stability and Change

Science and Engineering Practice (SEP): Constructing explanations (for science)

Sequence of Learning:

All living and nonliving things are part of an ecosystem. Interdependent relationships between these things create a balanced system. Healthy ecosystems support a variety of food webs and habitats for living things. For humans, ecosystems are necessary to provide necessary resources for survival.

Invasive Species Lesson - Anatomy of Shark Diagram

Invasive Species Lesson - Diagram of Water Cycle

  • Options for constructing a diagram: hand-drawn or digitally created images with labels and connections, digital diagram using Google Drawings. Use Scratch to code an interactive diagram or Sketchnote your diagram.
  • Students present diagrams to classmates and engage in collaborative discussions about invasive species.
  • Here is a rubric for scoring work.