Rock Snot, Cane Toads, and Other Aliens

Information for Teachers

Curriculum links

This investigation is linked to the following Grade 5 Next Generation Science Standards.

ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems

Human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major effects on the land, vegetation, streams, ocean, air, and even outer space. But individuals and communities are doing things to help protect Earth’s resources and environments. (5-ESS3-1)

LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

The food of almost any kind of animal can be traced back to plants. Organisms are related in food webs in which some animals eat plants for food and other animals eat the animals that eat plants. Some organisms, such as fungi and bacteria, break down dead organisms (both plants or plants parts and animals) and therefore operate as “decomposers.” Decomposition eventually restores (recycles) some materials back to the soil. Organisms can survive only in environments in which their particular needs are met. A healthy ecosystem is one in which multiple species of different types are each able to meet their needs in a relatively stable web of life. Newly introduced species can damage the balance of an ecosystem. (5-LS2-1)

LS2.B: Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems

Matter cycles between the air and soil and among plants, animals, and microbes as these organisms live and die. Organisms obtain gases, and water, from the environment, and release waste matter (gas, liquid, or solid) back into the environment. (5-LS2-1)

How to search the internet

1 Keep your request short

Fewer words will give a more accurate search.

2 Choose exactly what you want

For example: Arctic Circle Climate

3 Use quotes

Double quotes around a set of words tell the search engine to consider those exact words in that exact order without any change. For example: “Arctic Circle Climate”

4 Use the plus sign (+)

If you add a plus sign (+) between words, the internet will search for all the words. For example: migrate+birds+whales+mammal

5 Use the minus sign (–) to say what you don’t want

Use a minus sign (–) to show words you do not want to appear in your results. For example: if you search for burrowing animals and do not want mammals in your search,  –mammals will exclude mammals. Note that you need to put a space before the minus sign for the word to be excluded.

6 Be very clear about what you don’t want

Part 1
Ask questions and define problems

After reading Rock Snot, Cane Toads, and Other Aliens, you may have many questions about the problems caused by introducing living things into new environments.

List your questions

  • Compare your list with questions that others have.
  • Choose a question you would like to investigate.
  • You can work alone, with a partner, or in a small group.

You may want to choose one or more of these questions to investigate

Q1. Choose an introduced species to investigate and explain the damage they can do to an environment.

Q2. What can happen to native species of plants and animals when new species of living things are introduced?

Q3. Are there problems with introduced or invasive plant or animal pests near where you live? What damage do these plants or animals cause?

Go to Part 2 Investigate →

Part 2

Helpful websites

You may want to use websites to help you’re your investigations.

You can do searches for feral+plant or animal+country or state


Pest animals and plants are sometimes feral. They were introduced as pets or garden plants by people but they have escaped and flourish in the wild.

Go to Part 3 Record data →

Part 3
Record data

Find a way of recording your information that will allow you to see any patterns in the data.

Data Chart for Rock Snot, Cane Toads, and Other Aliens

Download Chart
Go to Part 4 Organize, analyze, and interpret data →

Part 4
Organize, analyze, and interpret data

1. Look over the information you have gathered and the patterns you have found.

What have you learned about introduced species?

What are the main reasons why animals or plants were introduced into an area?

Did the decision to introduce these plants or animals produce the expected outcome?

What damage can invasive plants do to native vegetation?

2. Search for other patterns.

How are people responsible for introduced invasive plants and animals?

What sort of things are they doing to try to fix these mistakes?

3. Makes notes about what you find.

Go to Part 5 Present and share →

Part 5
Present and share

Look over all of the information that you have gathered in your investigation.

What are the most important ideas about invasive species?

Make a chart showing the most important ideas.

Download Chart
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