Into the Marsh


1. Set the stage for this lesson by inviting students to reflect on problems the marsh may encounter during the springtime. (To launch this conversation, you might find it helpful to review all or part of the Challenges Await You Introductory Presentation.) Record all responses. If students have not already done so, help guide them to the understanding that spring is when insects (typically in the larval stage) are very busy, growing and feeding.

2. Advise students that during today’s lesson they will manage their adopted marshes to protect them from insect pest damage.

3. If this is your students’ first encounter with a lesson from Challenges Await You, introduce the Growers’ Association meeting as a way to learn more about managing a cranberry marsh to discuss decisions, get advice, etc.

4. Convene a Growers’ Association meeting about insect pests and the challenge of managing them. Distribute Insects on your Marsh? Read and discuss as a group.

5. Tell students that during this Growers’ Association meeting, the class will examine one sweep net sample together and make a decision as to an appropriate pest management plan. This demonstration sample will help prepare students to face their own challenges with their adopted marshes.

6. Project Demonstration Sweep Net Sample for the class to view. Explore the page together, using the following questions to guide student thinking:

  • What do you see?  Describe the insects. At what stage of the life cycle are these insects?
  • Why is there more than one type of insect?
  • Other than insects, what else do you see on this page
  • How do people organize information in order to understand it better?
  • What are some ways we could organize the insect information on this page?

If students have not already suggested a bar graph, ask:

  • What is a bar graph? How does a bar graph display information?

7. Explain to students that the class will collectively create a bar graph of the insects in this sample.

8. As you, the teacher, click on a particular insect, invite students to determine its appropriate location on the horizontal axis. Drag that insect to its location. Continue to complete the graph together.

9. Distribute to each student pair the student worksheet, Bugs on My Berries! Sweep Net Sample Results. Tell students to use information from the graph and the Growers’ Brief to complete the student worksheet.

10. Have students determine if any the insects in this sample pose a threat to their cranberry crop. Note: All students should conclude that at this time no insect poses a threat to the marshes.

11. Explain to students that they will now examine a sweep net sample from their adopted marshes. Direct students to the appropriate student web page (either Blue Sky Marsh Sweep Net Sample or Sunrise Marsh Sweep Net Sample.)

12. Distribute a second copy of the student worksheet, Bugs on your Marsh! to each student pair.

13. Allow 10-12 minutes for students to complete their sweep net bar graph and record the relevant information on their student worksheet, Bugs on My Berries!

14. Reconvene the Growers’ Association and invite students to report their findings.

Note: The numbers of gypsy moth larvae on Sunrise Marsh exceed the action threshold while the numbers of false army worm exceeds the action threshold on Blue Sky Marsh. Therefore, the results of the sweep will require students to take action, no matter which marsh they have adopted.

15. The rest of this lesson challenges students to solve their insect pest problems. Raise the question, “What actions are possible?” Discuss.

16. Distribute What is IPM? Read and discuss, addressing the following questions:

  • What are some typical treatments cranberry growers use to manage insect pests?
  • What is the benefit to the marsh when using these options?
  • What is the risk to the marsh using these options?
  • Are there any treatments that pose no risk?

17. Introduce student worksheet Taking Action. Instruct students to use this table to organize their information and decide on a course of treatment for their problem insect pests.

18. After student pairs have completed Taking Action, organize same marsh student pairs into discussion groups (2 to 3 student pairs per group). NOTE: As in the real world, there is no one right answer to this challenge. This lesson provides a rich opportunity for students to defend their positions with data. Explain to students that each student pair should review their data gathering and decision making with the rest of the small group. Direct the small groups to address the following discussion questions:

  • What insects posed a threat to your cranberry crop?
  • What were some treatment options that you considered?
  • What treatment options did you reject?  Why?
  • Which treatment did you select?  Why?
  • Would you now change your decision based on the comments of the other members of your group?

19. OPTIONAL: If you wish, you might have pairs of students who have adopted Sunrise Marsh exchange data with student pairs who have adopted Blue Sky Marsh, so that these teams might serve as “consultants” to each other. This provides and additional opportunity for students to practice the IPM analysis and communication about decisions in depth.

20. Assign each student a writing piece for Berry Blog, where they provide rationale for their pest management strategy or critically respond to other student growers decisions.