This project is supporting an outreach program designed specifically for the new Ravensford School, located in the Qualla Boundary, North Carolina, the tribal lands of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. Dr. Scott Schlarbaum has been working with the Eastern Band of Cherokees for the past three years, assisting with the development of a natural resources curriculum. This project is focused on integrating population and molecular genetics and forest ecology across the K-12 curriculum with Cherokee culture, science, mathematics and technology included in every lesson.

We are working with Dr. Carmaleta Monteith, the person responsible for the development of new curriculum, to develop sciences exercises focused on culturally significant tree taxa:

  • Genetics. This curriculum teaches K-5 students differences in external morphologies among and within different species of trees, and expands to basic subject material in population and molecular genetics for 9-12 students. Lab exercises include DNA extraction and basic genetic analysis of local trees in the Qualla boundary. Hands-on experience in genotyping and measuring parent and progeny trees in a local plantation of butternut is being used to illustrate genetic principles.
  • Forest Ecology. This curriculum teaches K-12 students how to identify the flora and fauna associated with natural forest ecosystems. Grade 9-12 students are further learning about the complex spatial relationships within riparian forest ecosystems. Mathematics is integrated into each lesson, beginning with simple measurements of leaves and nuts and gradually advancing to the use of elementary statistics to analyze the measurements. Lessons in molecular genetics include DNA extraction and fragment analysis. Ecological lessons include the use of GPS units to combine the collected data with geographic information system layers of information to understand the spatial relationships. Both Dr. Scott Schlarbaum and Dr. Jeanne Romero-Severson are participating in curriculum development.
Give Feedback!