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The Trouble with Crayfish


This lesson is designed for students to explore the natural fluctuations that take place within a healthy ecosystem, and to recognize how introducing a non-native species to that habitat can compromise the quality and diversity of the ecosystem. Students will be asked to compare a natural ecosystem before and after the introduction of crayfish. The students will then make recommendations for rules regarding responsible use of crayfish as classroom specimens.

Suggested Grade Levels


Time Frame

2 days (30 - 45 minutes each day)

Enduring Understandings

After completing the activities contained in this lesson, the student should understand these basic concepts:

  • Ecosystems change over time due to natural and human events.
  • Changes to one part of an ecosystem can affect all other parts of that ecosystem.
  • Human activities can affect the potential for hazards.

Arizona Department of Education Standards

This lesson was designed to present an integrated approach to learning. Not only will the students be introduced to science concepts dealing specifically with ecosystems, but they will also develop and interpret graphs and write a persuasive paragraph. Although the lesson plan includes the specific performance objectives, the following general concepts are covered:

    Grade Level
Subject Strand 4
Science 1 x
3 x
4 x
Math 1  
2 x
3 x
Reading 1  
3 x

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This lesson is available in a standard PDF form:


Photos © Philip J. Fernandez and Thomas R. Jones

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