Science

Plants and People - Himalayan Expedition Part 2

At 14,767 feet (4,500 meters) you've reached the elevation where the high-altitude porters take over. While this exchange is taking place, you mention to one of the guides that you are amazed at how many useful plants there are in the mountains. He tells you that this is nothing compared to the way it used to be. Most of the people you've seen collecting plants are herdsmen who travel up and down the mountainside checking on their livestock. Local collectors either use the plants themselves or sell them in the local market.

Plants and People - Appalachian Expedition Part 2

You are amazed at how many useful plants there are in the mountains. The fact that plants like ginseng are rare is a reminder, though, that the variety of useful plants available in the mountains today is nothing like what it used to be. Traditionally, most collectors were local people who harvested enough for their families. Sometimes they would gather additional plants to sell in the local market. In recent years, however, there has been increased global demand for natural products like medicinal herbs. This has brought outside collectors to the mountain.

Plants and People - Appalachian Expedition Part 1

When you step out of your tent, the rain-soaked landscape reminds you that a storm blew through camp during the night. It's a little cloudy out, but the sun is already trying to break through. Before long the rest of your teammates are awake and you gather around the fire, eating toast with butter and drinking hot tea. Now that you know a little bit about the people of Blair Mountain and have seen their natural landscape, you begin to think about the relationship between the two. Do these mountain people use the natural resources found on Blair Mountain to survive?

Mountains as Biodiversity Hotspots - Appalachain Expedition Part 2

Mountain logging site. Photo: Library of CongressYou've just been fortunate to witness the incredible diversity of plant life on Blair Mountain. Unfortunately, many of these plants are in danger. In addition to the threat of mountaintop mining, these plants are threatened by logging, agricultural practices, and tourist activities. These threats exist because people have discovered the vast resources-from fun to wood-that mountains have to offer and they are taking advantage of them.

Mountains as Biodiversity Hotspots - Appalachain Expedition Part 1

The Expedition Begins

The Appalachians. Photo: TMIAfter weeks of planning and preparation, your expedition is finally going to begin. First you land at Logan County airport in Ethel, West Virginia. After renting a car, you drive 20 miles to the town of Hetzel.

Hetzel, the closest town to Blair Mountain, is where you will spend a day making final preparations for your expedition.

Module 2: Teacher's Guide

Time: 9 days, 30-60 minutes/day

Overview: Students begin their expedition by investigating local and mountain biodiversity and exploring the environmental threats and conservation measures related to the biodiversity of these two areas.

Objectives: To become familiar with local native plants through the investigation of and comparison to native plants in the mountain environment.

National Standards Addressed (attached below)

Module 1: Teacher's Guide

Time: 8 days, 30-45 minutes/day

Overview: Students explore the importance of mountains, how mountains are made, and graphical representations of mountains on maps.

Objectives: To spark student interest in the investigation of mountains and to increase familiarity with mountain characteristics and formation.

National Standards Addressed (attached below)

The Secret Life of Ponds

Water makes life on the planet not just livable, but possible. All organisms are utterly dependent on it for survival. Our bodies are 80 percent water. It covers three-quarters of the Earth's surface, but only 3 percent of that area is fresh water (the rest is oceanic salt water), and more than half of that is in the form of ice.

Catching the Rain

Objectives

Students will:

  • discover the impact of soil conditions on rainwater absorption
  • learn gardening practices to help increase moisture absorption

Central Concepts

Water does not penetrate well in some soil conditions, causing runoff and erosion.

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Last updated on 07/30/2014
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