Lakeville: Session 1

Silent Invaders of Florida’s Freshwater Ecosystems

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INTRODUCTION: Session 1 sets the stage for the entire Lakeville unit or it can be used as a valuable stand-alone introduction to Florida’s unique freshwater ecosystems. Students learn basic classification concepts related to Florida plant life (aquatic versus terrestrial; emersed, submersed, floating and floating-leaved) as well as the difference between native, non-native and invasive plant species. Along the way, they are introduced to real-life impacts that some invasive species are having on our environment and economy. It is important that students understand the difference between non-native and invasive. “Non-native” should never be presented as bad. There are many beneficial non-native plants in Florida: out of the ~1300 non-native plant species found here, only 10% are invasive. The lesson ends with positive actions we can take to become responsible environmental stewards and help prevent the spread of invasive plant species.


  • What are the criteria used to determine if a plant is native, non-native or invasive?
  • What are the ecological and economic impacts of invasive plants?
  • What can we do to minimize those impacts?

SUBJECTS: Science, Language Arts, Social Studies and Math (See NGSSS)


CONCEPTS: Natural resource management, invasive species, biodiversity, plants, animal and human impacts, physical structure of plants (stem support), physical traits and adaptations that allow species to survive in new environments, population distributions, competitions, difference between opinion and observation, empirical observations, classification, energy transfer in food web, waste management, reproduction essential for survival of species.

OVERALL TIME ESTIMATES: 45 minute session

LEARNING STYLES: Visual and auditory

VOCABULARY: [Also see keywords chart and definitions] alert, aquatic plants, ballast water, compost, country, continent, dispose, economic harm, emersed plants, environmental harm, floating-leaved plants, household garbage, hydrilla, inspect, invasive plants, native plants, natural areas, non-invasive plants, non-native plants, plant species, region, submersed plants, terrestrial plants, volunteer, water hyacinth

LESSON SUMMARY: Students watch a 25-minute presentation (“Silent Invaders”) which provides an introduction to Florida freshwater habitats and ecosystem management issues related to invasive species. Class discussion is facilitated by guiding questions, keyword vocabulary and reading/writing activities.

STUDENT LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Students will be able to…

  • Define the difference between native, non-native, and invasive plants.
  • Identify the impacts of invasive species.
  • Identify positive actions that can be taken in a community to minimize the impacts of invasive species.

MATERIALS: The following items can be found on our website:
1. "Silent Invaders" Module Presentation (request DVD and available on-line).

  • Guiding Questions
  • Keyword Chart
  • Keyword Definitions
  • "Silent Invaders" Talking Points
  • Teaching Points about native, non-native and invasive plants

2. Reading Activities (and Answer Keys with Next Generation Sunshine State Standards)

  • Native Plants
  • Non-Native Plants
  • Invasive Plants
  • Emersed Plants
  • Submersed Plants
  • Free-Floating Plants
  • Floating-Leaved Plants

3. Optional (both available in the Resource section of our website)

  • Understanding Invasive Aquatic Plants (Florida Edition) – Activity Book (PDF) Recommended for homework or as a reading exercise in Language Arts Class
  • Aquatic Plants: The Underwater Forests of Lakes and Rivers A "stand alone" activity book

1. Preview "Silent Invaders" Presentation, Guiding Questions and Talking Points.
2. Preview Teaching Points about non-native invasive plants and native plants, especially in Florida.
3. Optional: Request free photo murals from UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants ( Allow 2 weeks for delivery

1. Before Presentation (10 minutes)

  • Conduct open class discussion about plants and their role in Florida freshwater ecosystems.
  • Distribute Silent Invaders Guiding Questions and review with students.
  • Distribute Keyword Chart and review vocabulary; define words if needed (see Keyword definitions).

2. During "Silent Invaders" Presentation (25 minutes)

  • Encourage students to take notes on keyword chart and answer Guiding Questions.

3. After "Silent Invaders" Presentation (10 minutes)

  • Discuss film while reviewing answers to Guiding Questions and Keyword Chart definitions.
  • FCAT "higher thinking" questions are available.

4. Distribute Reading Activities and/or Understanding Invasive Aquatic Plants (Activity Book).


1. Responses to Guiding Questions can be used (Objective #1, #2 and #3).
2. Reading activities may also be used:

  • Native-Plants (Objective #1 and #2)
  • Non-Native Plants (Objective #1, #2, and #3)
  • Invasive Plants (Objective #2 and #3)
  • Emersed Plants (Objective #2 and #3)
  • Submersed Plants (Objective #2 and #3)
  • Free Floating Plants (Objective #2 and #3)
  • Floating Leaved Plants (Objective #2 and #3)

1. Use native and non-native photo murals to lead a discussion using Teaching Points. (Photo murals free upon request:
2. Students choose a specific native, non-native or invasive plant species (found in Florida) and create their own PowerPoint presentation to present to the class.
3. Create a "License Plate" promoting native plants or discouraging invasive plants (Objective #1, and #3).

Session 1 Materials