Summer SAVY 2019: Session 2, Day 3 – Ecological Expedition (Rising 3rd/4th)
Today we were not only ecologists, but mathematicians! Students focused on the debatable question, “Should humans help control the growth or decline of animal populations?” through studying invasive species. The United States and the department of wildlife needed our students’ help by analyzing how the wild boar population impacts different ecosystems in our country. Through games, videos, maps, graphs, and complex questions, students learned more about the effects of these aggressive creatures so they could create a solution to this problem.
Students first began their study through a game on population growth. Each group was given a particular amount of time, and every certain number of seconds, students doubled their animals’ population. Students quickly saw how populations could grow quickly, and we reflected about the possible impacts on other plants and animals if a population continued to increase without any control.
Next, we watched a couple videos and analyzed maps on the wild pig population in the United States. Students saw not only the growth of these animals in the south, but in Tennessee as well! Finally, students calculated the change in the wild boar population within the last ten years and graphed their results. When comparing the wild boars population growth to other species during this same time period, one could see how this invasive species could wipe of an entire native species in an area in less than 10 years!
Today we also had a guest speaker join us who just finished her PhD at Vanderbilt and did her field work in Brazil! Dr. Jen Bradham shared about her journey as an ecologist and answered many of the students’ questions on animals, invasive species, and the qualities of an ecologist. We are so thankful Jen was able to come and speak to the students!
Students ended the day with a research project on an invasive species of their choice. They will create posters and present their findings to one another tomorrow. I can already tell some of these students are well on their way to becoming future ecologists one day!