Great Smoky Mountains National Park is pleased to offer its fall Parks as Classrooms (PaC) program, from September through November, to students in grades K-8 from Tennessee schools. Resource Education Park Rangers are the subject experts and primary instructors during on-site field trips to the Park. Lesson plans combine Park resources with educational disciplines, including science and social studies. During activities, the Park becomes an outdoor classroom with hands-on learning experiences at several Park locations. The following are the programs available at this time:
Anthony Creek Classroom, Cades Cove -1st grade: Rangers teach students to become nature detectives and participate in a habitat discovery hike. A show and tell activity teaches about different animal groups and their characteristics.
Porters Flat Classroom, Greenbrier and Cove Homeplace Classroom, Cades Cove - 2nd grade: Children travel back in time to discover how early settlers used the forest for obtaining food and medicines and recreate the experience of building a log home using real tools.
Air Quality Interactions Classroom, Sugarlands Visitor Center or Clingmans Dome - 5th grade: Students collect data for on-going monitoring studies about air pollution as relationships between forest elements are explored. The connections between human activities and impacts to the natural environment are examined in this program.
Soil Exploration Classroom, Twin Creeks Science and Education Center near Gatlinburg - 6th grade: Participate in an inventory of the macro invertebrates of the deciduous forest using scientific methods. In small groups, the class will recognize the interdependence of biotic and abiotic factors.
Cades Cove Loop Classroom - 6th grade: This bicycle tour takes students part of the way around Cades Cove Loop Road. Students role-play as Park managers and plan the future of four key resources of the Cove. Class size is limited to 30 students. This program can also be given as a hayride for larger groups rather than on bicycles. (A small fee per student is required to rent the bicycles or hay wagon.)
The New Deal Classroom, near Sugarlands Visitor center - 7th grade: A three mile round trip hike allows students to explore the remaining clues of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. The role of the Smokies during this era will be discussed.
Cades Cove Classroom - 7th grade: Students participate in how biologists track animals and manage wildlife. Participants will examine many of the historic structures in Cades Cove.
Little River Classroom, near Sugarlands Visitor Center - 7th grade: Using scientific methods, students will study streams. Students conduct water quality tests and assess the watershed’s health while discovering stream creatures.
Biodiversity Classroom, Twin Creeks Science and Education Center near Gatlinburg - 8th grade: Students will study biodiversity by hands-on sampling of microscopic life in the temperate forest biome. Classroom size is limited to 50 students.
All activities are conducted in a three-hour program (including break for lunch, from September through November. Chaperones will be required. In addition to the on-site trips, most units include a pre-visit materials package with logistical information, a video, and pre-site and post-site lesson plans for use in the classroom.
Interested teachers can contact the Park at 865-436-1713 or visit our website: www.nps.gov/grsm/forteachers to learn more. These educational programs would not be possible without the generous support of Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and many other local donors.