Posted by: csdailyblog | October 18, 2011

Students Use GPS to Map Invasive Species

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I enjoyed visiting Field Instruction class late last week. Here’s a summary:

On Thursday and Friday, field instructors Greg Handley and Heather Lumpkin reviewed with students characteristics of invasive species and taught students how to identify common invasive plants on the Conserve School property: thistles, spotted knapweed, and mullein.  (Field instructors and science teachers met last week to review curriculum and ensure that this lesson in field instruction complemented and reinforced earlier lessons in science.) An interesting conversation developed when one student asked during the discussion, “Could humans be classified as an invasive species?”

The instructors then showed students how to use hand-held GPS devices and coached students as they practiced using them.  After the introductory portion of the lesson in the classroom, Heather and Greg took students outside in small groups to find invasive species and plot them, using the GPS devices, for future reference. The groups also pulled and disposed of the invasives they found.

Students were surprised by how cold it had gotten, and we stopped at the residence houses to get extra jackets, hats, and gloves. Winter is coming!

Students and staff members have been working on removing invasives on campus for several years now, and I was pleased to see the progress that’s been made. Last spring I took a group of CS2 students out on a thistle-eradicating mission, during which we spot-sprayed thistle rosettes (the flat rosettes of leaves that first emerge in the spring) with Round-up.  On Friday we searched for thistles in these same areas, and I’m happy to report we didn’t find a single one. That’s progress! Using GPS units to record precisely where the invasives are located on campus will really speed up this process.

The academic work at Conserve School that focuses on identifying and reducing the population of invasives on campus is a great example of exactly what we strive to provide to students at Conserve School: hands-on learning with real-world value.

– Mary Anna

Conserve School is a conservation-based semester school for high school students. Read more about us at www.conserveschool.org or on our Facebook page.

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