As students enter, the word “pest” is
written in large letters on the board. Students write
immediately think of when they see that word and define
pest in their own words.
1. Students sit in a group of 4-5, each individual with a piece of paper. Tell
students to write at the top:
2. Explain to them that you want them to each silently spend 5-10 minutes
writing down the name of any organism they think might be a pest in the left-hand
column. Then they write when or where it is a pest under "Pest" column.
If they can think of a situation where or when that SAME organism is NOT
a pest, write that down in the far right-hand column. Keep it simple, for
in the garbage can
in the woods
3. After the individual students have quietly listed all
their pests, have them compare notes within their group
by going around the table and have each read their answers.
On each pest read aloud, see if the others in the group
agree or disagree. Have the first student who reads their
answers be the group recorder. This person will add each
new species to his or her list as each is mentioned. Note
how many times the same organisms were mentioned (e.g.
5 out of 5 students said mosquitoes).
Have one student from each group be the reporter and present their
group's long list to the class. Have one student write the names of the
species on the board as the group's report. If there are points where they
cannot reach agreement, have them report back to the class what the different
1. Instruct students to look under the column listing all
the organisms. How many times were the same species mentioned?
(Ask for a show of hands.) These are likely to be very annoying
or harmful species to many people. You can use this list
later or over time in the class to build on the concept of
pests and develop pest management activities aimed at organisms
the students themselves find bothersome.
Look at the column containing all the situations in which
the organisms were listed as a "Pest". Ask
students, “What do these situations have in common?” (Most
likely they are all human endeavors of some sort or
spoiling something that humans value.)
3. Look at the column deemed "Not a Pest". Ask
students, “What do these scenarios have in common?” (Most
likely they are a role played by the species in the natural
environment and/or their use as food, pleasure or research
purposes for humans.)
As a class, come up with a class definition of a pest.
Encourage them to include some aspect that includes that
a pest is a human construct. This definition should be
written into their notebooks.
Having agreed upon a definition of pest, ask students what
they might do to control them? What do they do to control
them in their homes? Invariably cockroaches will come up
as a pest. How would they deal with cockroaches if they had
a problem with them? The roach motels or insecticide/pesticide
spray use will probably be the most common use. For homework
ask students to ask family members what their definition
of a pest is, provide an example and how would they deal
with the pest. They can also search the pest control section
of the yellow pages and identify what are the common pests
that these companies say they will rid homes of. Why are
these animals considered pests? Would the student consider
it a pest? Where and when would the animal not be considered
a pest? Have students comment on the marketing technique
used by the companies. Students should address whether there
might be other ways to control these pests.