If time permits, the student use fishing nets to catch some of the fish swimming around. We then explain the use of landmarks for finding the spot with the baby. Then they measure the wind speed with an anemometer. They then measure the humidity by wetting the wet bulb of a sling psychrometer. The measure its temperature with a thermometer. Then they read the dry bulb temperature and the wet bulb temperature. Squeeze me, tease me when I’m wet. Subtract one from the other to get the wet bulb depression and then use a chart to get the relative humidity. Then we get our feet wet in the swamp. The final experiment in the swamp is soil testing. Vegetation, animal identification and soil testing is done in each of the other Eco-systems. The soil in the pinelands is predominately sand: gray brown, gritty glittery and filled with pine needles. Here they find the soil is called marl: greenish gray black, clumpy like clay and has periphyton.
We then explain what periphyton. Then we observe the vegetation and the animals that are in the environment. Birds of prey are drawn to the smoke for easy meals of mice rats and other small animals escaping the flames. What animals would be prey to the alligator and panther? The students are very curious and are surprised at the tiny brain that the alligator has. What animals would be a predator of the alligator or panther? After a few minutes we get used to the coolness of the water and proceed to our first experiment: track a Florida Panther with radio telemetry equipment. The panther is only a beanie baby, because we would not want to disturb a real sleeping panther. It was dark out and I didn’t want a skunk in the barn. Everything your pet rubs against will smell like skunk and you will end up with a larger mess to figure out how to clean. Once you know your pet is safe but smells really bad you need to keep him or her outside or isolated away from things that will trap the smell including carpet.
There are all sorts of toys, care items, and luxuries for pampered pets, and the pet stores want you to buy them–for a small fortune. You do not want to have to deal with the smell of a dead skunk. If you have ever caught a whiff of the noxious odor that these little buggers emanate whenever they are frightened or attacked, then you might be inclined to think twice about attempting to kill them in this manner next time around. According to the most current research, over 90 percent of all cases of bad breath originate in the mouth, NOT in the stomach, sinuses, or lungs as most people think. We walk single file through the gate and pause on the plug over the man-made canal. Four times per week we take approximately forty students at a time into three environments: swamp, prairie, and pineland. We further divide them into smaller groups of three to four students per group.
Each of the groups starts in a different environment and then rotates to the next one. Once again we pick up our waling sticks and go up another Florida mountain of less than one foot into the pinelands. Here the vegetation is dominated by Florida slash pine, which was used to make turpentine from its sap. Some of the vegetation include bald cypress trees, knees and needles, serpent ferns, swamp ferns, swamp maple, sabal palm, air plants, pickeral weed, etc. The students then answer the question: what animals would eat what vegetation? Big Cypress has a prescribed fire policy, whereby the Preserve is set afire every three to five years. Vigorously rub a couple handfuls of baby powder into your pet’s fur and let it set for a couple minutes. I felt as though that was a wasted $45.00 to not set it up. Each group has a backpack filled with a workbook, pencils and all of the equipment needed to perform the various experiments.