Grade 7 students at St. Matthew’s Elementary in Surrey were studying invasive species in science class when they found out a river otter was making news headlines for munching on koi in a Vancouver pond.

As koi fatalities climbed (the otter apparently feasted on about a dozen, including a 50-year-old fish named Madonna), the class pored over news articles and videos and launched into a debate over which species was invasive – the otter or the koi.

Teacher Casey Sisk said some students even wrote letters to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden to share their opinions and offer condolences for the effects the otter had on its business.

“It was a great example of cross-curricular learning, current events, and expressing the Catholic worldview,” said Sisk. They tied the whole lesson back to Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ encyclical on care for the environment, and on compassion for others.

Grade 7 students at St. Matthew’s Elementary, where the great otter vs. koi debate was a topic for class discussion . (Casey Sisk photo)