Summer SAVY 2018: Session 6, Day 1 – Field Ecology (Rising 5th/6th)
We are so excited to meet your kids this week in SAVY and excited to show them the principles of
ecology in our course, Land, Sea, and Air! We are a team of five instructors, four graduate students and
one postdoctoral fellow, each with expertise on a different topic within ecology. This morning, we
introduced ourselves and the concept of ecology to the kids- we’ve already had some great discussions on the complex interactions among organisms and their physical environment and what it means to be an ecologist. Each day, we will build on a level of the food chain or ecosystem so that the kids can get an in-depth look at each of the components of an environment. We will have two instructors per day to cover the ecology of plants, birds & insects, microbes, and aquatic ecosystems, and the human impact on the environment. By the end of the course, your kids will be able to use a key or guide to identify many organisms based on appearance, describe the complex interactions among all components of an ecosystem, and apply this knowledge to assess wildlife and environmental management plans.
Today, the class learned about plants, the primary producers in most environments. They learned how
to classify plants based on various physical characteristics and how to use a dichotomous key to identify the exact species of a tree. We also learned how to keep a field notebook, how to calculate biodiversity, and had them start building their own imaginary ecosystems from the ground up! They’ll be working on this ecosystem throughout the week by incorporating the knowledge of various organisms they learn about each day. They started today only knowing a few trees they have heard about before, and are now able to use a field guide or key to identify trees in the field! Attached is a crossword puzzle with key plant vocabulary that we covered today in class- see if your child can complete it without the hints from their class worksheet! If you’re outside and have time to spare, take a look at this mobile guide of common trees on Vanderbilt’s campus and identify some of them with your kids!
We’re looking forward to the rest of the week!
-The Plant Team (Stephanie Birnbaum and Jessie Perlmutter)
Studying the Plants Outside