Summer SAVY Session 2, Day 4 – Ecological Expedition
Day 4: We invaded ecosystems today at SAVY! This morning we continued to work towards answering the question, “What impact does an imbalance or an over/underpopulation of one species have on an ecosystem?”
Students started their invasive species journey 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 on the possible impacts on other plants and animals if a population continued to increase without any control. Next, students became real ecologists and were given a packet of “confidential” research as well as a white lab coat to wear! We watched a video, analyzed maps, created graphs, and had meaningful conversations about 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 boar population growth to other species during this same time period, one could see how this invasive species could wipe off an entire native species in an area in less than 10 years! After studying feral pigs, students were tasked to make a brochure that would educate other kids about these invasive species and provide possible solutions to this crisis! They will present these tomorrow to our “US Wildlife Department.” Today we also had an Ecological Manager from TDOT come in and share his passion for the environment as well as his career journey as an environmental scientist. He has participated in several large research projects throughout the past 15 years and brought pictures to show us his work and impact in areas throughout the United States. Ask your child about the Dismal Swamp story! We ended our day talking about interactions between people and animals. Should humans take animals out of their natural habitats? Students will conclude our week by thinking about the pros and cons of zoos as well as working on their animal enclosure for our “Zoo of the Future” project.