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Summer SAVY Session 2, Day 1 – Ecological Expedition

Posted by on Monday, June 19, 2023 in blog, SAVY.

Day 1:  What a wonderful first day in Ecology Expedition! We have a small class this week, but everyone is very well-versed in animals. I was so surprised about the unique pets students have at home!  

Our goal this week is for students to become professional ecologists by learning about interactions among living and non-living things in the environment, through people, books, art, words, and studying ecology! We began our morning by exploring interactions. Luckily, we were able to get outside before it rained! Students observed both living and non-living interactions around Vanderbilt’s campus. Students compared their interactions to create generalizations for our concept. Throughout the week we will constantly revisit these to reflect on our learning.  

Generalizations for interactions:  

  • Interactions are inevitable  
  • Interactions cause change  
  • Interactions are caused by multiple influences  
  • Interactions can be positive, negative, or mutually beneficial  

After building a foundation around our concept, we dove into exploring interactions through texts and paintings! We read the book, The Great Kapok Tree. I was so excited no one has read it before! Lynne Cherry does a beautiful job sharing the effects of deforestation through her illustrations and word techniques. Focusing on interactions, we identified elements of the text and then discussed how textual elements interact to help the reader create meaning about the text. We also continued to explore the pros and cons of cutting down trees to collect evidence for our class debate on the question, “Should humans interfere with nature?” Ask your child where he or she stands on this topic.  

We spent most of the day learning about ecology by analyzing fictional texts, but we started our next lesson on how elements in a painting interact to create meaning. Before analyzing art, we examined how and why we see colors by looking at visual illusions and the science behind our eyes!  

To extend learning at home, try one of these activities:  

  • Identify elements in a text and discuss how they interact. An example question could be, “How does the setting impact the theme?”  
  • Have a debate about deforestation.  
  • Look at various visual illusions and the science behind them.  
  • Observe interactions in different environments and connect them to one of our generalizations.  
  • Have students share what they learned about ecosystems!  

We accomplished so much as ecologists today! I cannot wait until tomorrow! 

Beth Waight