SUBMITTED By ROSE GARRETT
SOUTHWESTERN COMM. COLLEGE
Cherokee Middle School sixth, seventh and eighth graders participated in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Electronic Field Trip via live webcast. The Field Trip was broadcast on a large screen in the Cultural Center Auditorium and the webcast featured Cherokee Middle School students Michael George, Dre Crowe and Tagan Crowe.
Southwestern Community College GEAR UP coordinated the three students’ involvement in the experience, as well as the showing of the webcast at the school. The field trip focused on the biodiversity in the Smokies and included activities led by park Rrangers, Tardigrade (microscopic waterbears) expert Diane Nelson, professor emeritus East Tennessee State University, and other local schoolchildren.
The Electronic Field Trip gave middle school students an interactive opportunity to understand how plants and animals fit together and depend on one another as part of the same ecosystem. During the educational adventure, students learned how the variety of elevations, abundant rainfall and the presence of old growth forests give the park an unusual richness of biota (collection of organisms) such as black bears, microscopic waterbears (Tardigrades), lichens, elk and lungless salamanders.
The students watching the video could call or e-mail the park rangers at the park and ask questions that were answered in real time. The Smokies Electronic Field Trip is sponsored by the National Park Foundation, the National Park Service, the UPS Foundation and Apple Learning Interchange.