Alien warning!

Successful educational lab at the Genova Science Festival

Dressed up as “Sheriffs for Nature”, school children and high school students participated to the educational lab “Alien warning. Invasive species threaten our planet” realised by ISPRA, Regione Lazio and TIC within the Life ASAP Project in the Genova Aquarium during the Science Festival, from 25 October to 4 November 2018.

The lab aimed at developing knowledge on invasive alien species and raising awareness on the risks linked to their introduction and spread, making young generations understand that each one of us can contribute to avoid the spread of invasive alien species. Designed for school children, the lab was also attended and appreciated by high school students.

After a general presentation on invasive alien species with videos and informative panels, participants were actively involved in an “Alien hunt”, taking place in the entrance hall of the household of a family just coming back from a trip abroad. The young Sheriffs for Nature, with the aid of an electronic alien detector, had to find plant and animal species voluntarily or involuntarily carried in suitcases, among clothes, on shoes soles, and find the alien invasive ones among them.

The lab ended with the narration of selected stories of plant and animal invasions, “Travelling aliens”,  realised on a large magnetic board representing the world map, with magnets and simple wool threads to visibly trace the pathways and describe the vectors through which these species travelled from their area of origin to the sites where the impact with the ecosystem and the local species are more serious and evident. The aim of this educational activity was to make participants understand the many pathways (airplanes, ships, packaging, etc..) through which alien species can be moved around and their -often unexpected- eventual impacts.

Younger participants were awarded the “Sheriff for Nature” certificate and all participants a Life ASAP bookmark reporting recommendations for responsible travellers.

Despite three days of bad weather alert, over 1,000 children, teens, parents and teachers participated to the Life ASAP labs. A great successful event we are proud of and for which we would like to thank Chiara, Federica, Martina, Davide and Alfonso, junior biologists and naturalists from the Science Festival organisation, who were trained by us and later successfully managed the labs. A special thank also to Isia - Urbino (University for Art Industries) students, who visited the labs and visually interpreted the stories about invasive alien species we were telling.