The Great Smoky National Park is the most visited national park in the United States, renowned for its great biodiversity, Southern Appalachian history and culture, and perhaps above all, it's striking natural beauty.
Within the boundaries of The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, you will find over 19,000 documented species, and scientists believe there could be an upwards of 80,000 more undiscovered. Talk about extreme biodiversity! There are over 1,500 species of flowering plants, 200 species of birds, 68 species of mammals, 67 species of native fish, 39 species of reptiles, and 43 species of amphibians. The reasons for such biodiversity in this area lie in the climate, weather, and mountain landscape. Your student group will get to learn all about the importance of biodiversity and reasons behind it during your field trip experience.
The mountains themselves are going to be a big learning focal point as well, the Appalachians among the oldest ranges in America, dating back 200-300 million years ago. The peaks range anywhere from 850 feet to 6,600 feet, giving a multitude of different outlooks, climates, and landscaped regions. What you will see from the top of any summit is a spectacular view of surrounding forest, 95% of the park area forested, with 25% of that area being old-growth forest.
History and culture educational points won't disappoint in the Great Smoky Mountains either, with an extensively documented history of national park residents over history, from prehistoric Paleo Indians to European settlers and loggers. There are programs listed below that take your students to specific settlements and show them what life was like in a particular area, a great way to immerse your students in the parks culture. Take a look at the video below to get a good idea of the history of the park!
So what benefits will your students get from a field trip experience here at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park? Where do we begin?
- State Standard Specific Lessons
- History and Culture Immersion
- Biodiversity Education
- Observation Skills
- Conservation Education
- Natural History Education
- Connection with Environment
The best part about planning a field trip to a national park with Adventure Student Travel is that we work directly with the National Park System in creating your perfect educational outing, meaning we will set you up with a ranger, existing classroom program, or simply get you the learning materials you need before, during, and after your trip. Our company will plan the trip, transportation, and lodging (if needed), and the NPS will take over once you are there and handle all the education focal points and experiences!
Here are the possible learning experiences your group can take part in at the park:
- Salamander Research Field Trip - Middle and High School
- Learn about the abundant and diverse salamander population and how air pollution and climate affect their lives.
- World of Tardigrades - Middle and High School
- The microscopic world of bacteria and lichens are explored within the 'All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory'.
- Terrestrial Invertebrate Biodiversity Inventory - High School
- A comprehensive study of invertebrate biodiversity.
- Tree Phenology Monitoring - Middle and High School
- The study of biological events that change in response to the environment, particularly in trees.
- Snails as Bioindicators of Acid Deposition - Middle and High School
- Get a closer look at the soil food chain, down to calcium deposits and acid consumption.
- Water Quality Monitoring - Middle and High School
- Immerse yourselves in the world of aquatic invertebrates.
- Ground Level Ozone Biomonitoring - High School
- Explore the different ozone changes within the park.
- Explore with your Senses - Elementary
- A simple hike through the forest for younger children that keeps them involved with games and sensory experiences.
- Minges Mill History and Culture - Elementary
- Learn about what life was like in the early 19th Century here within the Smoky Mountains.
Each of the programs above has online materials that your group can download that specifically address the background, objective, procedure, state standards, assessment, park connections, and vocabulary. (Follow this link to see an example).
Of course, your group can also opt in for a simple sightseeing hike with teacher-guided lessons along the way. Here are some of our suggested topics to focus on: Wildflowers, Communities, Families, Insects and Spiders, Animal Adaptions, Night Skies, Trees, and Forests, Talking Tombstones.
Take a look at 'Parks As Classrooms' at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and then get ready for your own Ultimate Field Trip Experience!!
Stay tuned for our next National Park Field Trip Experience feature!
For more national park trip ideas visit our national parks page.[/mp_span] [/mp_row]