The National Park Service announced yesterday that on November 3rd, millions of students across the country will visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park via satellite feed. Several groups besides the NPS teamed up to sponsor the event, including the National Park Foundation, UPS Foundation, and Apple. The goal of this multi-foundation team-up is to highlight the parks incredible biodiversity, and give students a chance to see the wonders of this great national treasure. (See our insiders guide to the park).
"The Smokies is home to more than 17,000 known species of plants and animals making it world renowned for its biological diversity,” said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. “Even so, new species are continually being discovered in this mountain wonderland. We’re excited that students around the country will learn about biodiversity, what it is, why they should care about it, and what they can do to protect it both in the Smokies and in their own backyards,” continued Ditmanson."
In preparation for the event, students and teachers are participating in online learning modules, lesson plans, and games. On the day of the event, a phone/computer bank of experts will be on hand to answer any questions the students may have. Several 6th and 8th graders from Tennessee and Western North Carolina will also be on hand to help park rangers explore and explain biodiversity and our place as future stewards of the park.
It’s a shame these students aren’t actually getting out to experience the park—but this is a nice substitute. But with any luck, they’ll be inspired enough to pester their parents into taking them.