On the road with future science teachers (Day 4)
June 5th, 2014
Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cherokee, North Carolina
By pre-service teacher Darrius Shaw
Photo: Pre-service teachers Bethany Westerhoff (left) and Darrius Shaw (right)
On the fourth day of our trip we started our day with a bang as we visited some historic billion year old rock at Cherokee Veterans Park. After we examined the rock Dr. Abolins provided some insight on the geologic make-up of the ancient rock; which is made up of metamorphic granite gniss. Moreover, we discussed how an increase in elevation provides a trip back in time because it affords a perception on how the structure of the environment was a long time ago. Our next stop was to the Smoky Mountains visitor center where we participated in various fascinating educational activities. Our first activity gave us cultural enlightenment as we took a step back in time to a farm one would commonly see in the smoky mountains a long time ago. The farm was not an original farm of the smoky mountains, rather several authentic structures that constituted a common Smoky Mountain farm that were found all over the national park. We followed the farm activity with two biology lessons, one on invertebrates found in the Smoky Mountains, and the other on the species of salamander found in the Smokies with ranger Carlin. These lessons required us to perform some field work in two different locations using two different techniques to capture invertebrates and salamanders. For the first lesson we captured invertebrates and took a look at them under the microscope and then recorded their species. We captured several invertebrates such as: millipedes, centipedes, beetles, a wolf spider, and many more. We continued our biology lesson searching for salamanders under slabs of wood that was previously marked by researchers, but we were unsuccessful. Though, we were able to find salamanders in the stream that was close to these marked spots, which we concluded that the areas surrounding those marked spots were not moist enough for the salamanders, therefore, they took refuge in the streams. Our final visit was to the Cherokee Indian reserve and right next door to the botanical gardens in Murphy, North Carolina. Though exhausted from such a long day we had a blast at the Cherokee Indian reserve where we learned about their culture and tradition that are still is in practice today.