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March 2011 The Applachian Trail: A Unit Study 2011 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC P.O. Box 8426, Gray, TN Printed in the United States of America All rights reserved. Author: Donna Rees Cover
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March 2011 The Applachian Trail: A Unit Study 2011 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC P.O. Box 8426, Gray, TN Printed in the United States of America All rights reserved. Author: Donna Rees Cover Design, Layout, and Art Director: Kimberly Pharris, Spectacle Graphics Cover Photo Courtesy of Laurie Potteiger, Appalachian Trail Conservancy Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptural references contained in this E-Book are taken from the King James Version of the Bible. This published work may contain facts, views, opinions, statements, recommendations, hyperlinks, references, websites, advertisements and other content and links or references to external sources (collectively, Content ) not owned or controlled by the publisher, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC ( TOS ). This Content does not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or recommendations of TOS, and any reliance upon such Content is taken at the user s sole risk. TOS and the individual contributors have made reasonable efforts to include accurate, current, family-friendly Content, but TOS makes no warranties or representations as to the accuracy, safety or value of Content contained, published, displayed, uploaded, downloaded or distributed through or as part of this publication and assumes no liability or responsibility for the content of linked or referenced sources or for errors or omissions in Content. Users are advised that online content, and the user s experience, may change during use or over time, and are strongly advised to use discernment and wisdom when considering advice and recommendations made in this or any other published work. TOS accepts no responsibility for the actions of third parties or for Content provided, uploaded, linked or posted by third parties. New Hampshire, Franconia Ridge Photo courtesy of Isaac Wiegmann, Appalachian Trail Conservancy ii Have you been searching for a unit study that is intriguing, fun, educational, full of activities that incorporate learning in many subject areas, and one that may just inspire your family to set out on the adventure of a lifetime? Then join us as we hit the Trail the Appalachian Trail! What exactly is the Appalachian Trail? The Appalachian Trail began as the brainchild of Benton MacKaye, who convened an Appalachian Trail conference in 1925 in Washington, D.C. 1 The A.T. was completed in 1937, although a good portion of it was still unblazed. The efforts of thousands of enthusiastic volunteers made MacKaye s dream a reality that all of us can enjoy today. Passing through eight national forests and fourteen states, it runs approximately 2,200 miles along the crest of the Appalachian Mountains between Springer Mountain, Georgia, and Mount Katahdin, Maine. The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is a privately managed unit of the national park system and is maintained by thirty-one trail clubs and numerous partnerships. Each year, more than six thousand volunteers invest about 200,000 hours of labor toward making the Trail accessible, safe, and enjoyable for those who follow its path. Guidebooks, including a twelve-book series, Appalachian Trail Conference Guidebooks, provide detailed information about each section of the nation s longest marked footpath, including locations of shelters, water, emergency contacts, directions, and maps. The Trail is marked with approximately 165,000 white paint blazes. Reportedly, hiking the complete Trail requires about 5 million footsteps! Elevation along the Trail ranges from a low point of 124 feet in New York to the highest elevation, 6,625 feet, on Clingman s Dome in Tennessee. It s estimated that as many as 3 million visitors hike a portion of the Trail annually. Since 1936, records show that more than 11,000 hikers (called 2,000-milers or thru-hikers ) have hiked the entire pathway. In the 1930s, a total of 8 hikers finished the journey, but during 2009, 562 completions were recorded. As of November 2010, 412 completions have been documented. 2 In 1948, Earl Shaffer (www.earlshaffer.com) became the first person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail from end to end in one continuous journey. 3 In 1955, Emma Grandma Gatewood became the first female to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in a single season; she was 67 years old. Emma was a farmer s wife and the mother of eleven children. She learned about the A.T. in a National Geographic Magazine and said she thought it would be a nice lark. 4 What s the appeal of hiking the A.T.? After all, hikers are likely to experience some discomfort and even hardships. Apparently hiking the Trail can provide hikers with a great sense of accomplishment as the reward for endurance, patience, and creativity. Of course, those who love nature will take great delight in the wide variety of plants, animals, and topographical features along the Trail, not to mention the delights of exhilarating sunrises and stunning sunsets, rainbows, thunderstorms, and the unique sounds of the forest. Hiking the Trail affords a challenge, an opportunity to use all your senses to enjoy all that the Trail has to offer. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy sponsors an incredible website (www.appalachiantrail.org) that can provide you with all kinds of information about the Trail and its history. Several branches of the Conservancy, including A.T. Classroom, A.T. Citizens, A.T. Causes, and A.T. Communities, offer a wide variety of services, as well as many opportunities to get involved with this volunteer organization that serves visitors seeking respite from the pressures of urban living. 5 I was overwhelmed by the amount of information and resources offered by this outstanding organization, from maps to teacher resources to information about wildlife to climate... it seemed like an endless trail of exciting facts and activities to explore! I encourage you to start your exploration of the A.T. at the Conservancy s website and then supplement that information with additional resources as you become more curious about specific aspects of the A.T. and related topics. I have found the following websites also to be helpful and informative: www. voanews.com/learningenglish/home/a voa html, (search for Appalachian Trail within the site), and Have fun blazing your own trail through this unit study. And when you are done, you might want to reward your students with some treasure from the Conservancy Store (www.atctrailstore.org) or make your own homemade ribbons for successfully completing the Appalachian Trail unit study! Donna Rees, a former homeschooling mom who is looking forward to being involved in her grandchildren s homeschooling experiences soon, hopes your family enjoys the activities described below. She encourages you to revise and adjust them to fit the needs of your family, learn a lot together, and most of all... have fun! Read a book(s) related to the Appalachian Trail. Write a book report. (See pages for title suggestions.) Write a report about any of these related topics. Students should carry out research and summarize their findings (at appropriate levels of difficulty): Backpacking/camping/hiking Animals found along the Trail (birds, reptiles, mammals, etc.) States (Focus on one or more of the states through which the Trail passes.) Types of tents, camping stoves, hiking shoes, etc. Invite a local Boy Scout and/or Girl Scout leader to instruct a group of homeschoolers (including your children, of course) about basic camping skills. Students should take notes and then create a poster that reflects what they learned. Plan a family hike, putting to use all of the tips given during the lecture described above. Spelling: The following activities barely scratch the surface of possibilities for an exciting, inspiring study of the Appalachian Trail. Please don t let these suggestions limit your imagination. Rather, let these suggestions spark your creativity! English/Writing/Spelling Master the spelling of each state through which the A.T. passes, as well as the spelling of each state capital. Compile a list of words related to backpacking; learn how to spell and define them, and write at least one sentence using each word. Write a short story that includes at least ten of these words. Create (or ask your students to create) word searches and crossword puzzles, using information related to the unit study as the source of content for those fun learning tools. www. discoveryeducation.com/free-puzzlemaker, crossword, Letter writing: Write to the Department of Tourism for each state along the Trail, requesting free brochures and maps of the area. Using these materials, create a collage about the Trail. Purchase an official A.T. map and mount it on a wall in your home. Students should create a journal about their (imaginary) experiences along a 25-mile stretch of the Trail. Although entries may certainly be humorous and entertaining, they also should reflect the student s knowledge of that particular portion of the Trail and document his or her travel in a believable manner, carefully citing noteworthy geographical sites, challenges, shelters, weather conditions, observations, foods eaten/prepared, interactions with others on the Trail, etc. A sample journal is included in the Junior Ranger guide found at this link: click on The Appalachian Trail on that page to download the PDF of the activity guide. Page 1 Read aloud an account written by someone who hiked the Trail. (Numerous accounts of actual A.T. adventures are offered by the Conservancy: Wes Wisson has been helping A.T. hikers with their transportation needs for many years. Interview him by phone ( ) or and submit the interview to your favorite homeschool magazine or hiking magazine for possible publication! Interview one of the thousands of volunteers who maintain the Trail. Find out why he (or she) volunteers, if he s hiked the entire Trail, his favorite parts of the Trail, funny or scary stories he s heard (or experienced!), tips for new hikers, etc., and summarize what you learned in a one-page report. Explore the topic of dialect and write a report that explains how dialects evolve. Include examples from a dialect of your choice. Investigate the topic of dialects, using Appalachian terminology as a starting point. Learn about terms such as jag (an armful of corn), gaum (a mess), galluses (suspenders) and counterpane (bedspread) and how similar terms came about. This fascinating website features a dialect map, which visually depicts varied pronunciations of a list of 122 familiar words, across the United States: www4.uwm.edu/fll/linguistics/dialect/maps.html. Older students should read Thomas Leverett s article (www.globalstudymagazine.com/site/articles/359) to learn about the role of dialect in our society and the fascinating development of dialects via Internet communication. Students should write a critique of Leverett s article, either defending or refuting his conclusions about both spoken dialects and written dialects. Learn about various dialect trends reflected via social networking. A recent survey of 4.5 million words used on 380,000 Twitter messages reveals some fascinating results! (www.aolnews.com/2011/01/11/do-you-tweet-southern-twitter-keeping-regional-dialects-alive) Students should conduct personal surveys in their neighborhoods and churches or among family members to gather their own data and draw conclusions. Their findings should be reported in a two-page report accompanied by appropriate graphs/tables. Math Write word problems (at appropriate skill levels for your students, or have older students write problems for younger students) using facts from the Trail. Examples: Nancy saw 3 squirrels, and John saw If John s pack weighed 7 lb. 9 oz. when he began, and he drank 14 oz. Stephen hiked 14.8 miles on Monday, 21.2 miles on Tuesday, and Tara wanted to hike the first half of the A.T. in a month. How many miles A.T. legend has it that the 2150-mile footpath from Georgia to Maine is an ancient Native American walkway. Not so. In fact, the A.T., as a concept, leapt from the imagination of one federal government civil servant [Benton MacKaye] who in 1921 had already recognized that Americans were too citified for their own good and needed more nearby, convenient opportunities for outdoor recreation.... Thousands of volunteers and many legislators helped make it a reality. Glenn Scherer and Don Hopey, Exploring the Appalachian Trail: Hikes in the Mid-Atlantic States Page 2 Graph the average number of visitors who have hiked the Trail each year since it opened. Calculate how much time it would require to hike designated distances, keeping these statistics in mind: Hiking without an overnight pack: Allow a halfhour for each mile, plus a half-hour for each 1,000 feet of elevation gain. For example, for a 3-mile hike with a 1,000- foot elevation gain, allow 2 hours. A beginning backpacker should allow minutes per mile, with an extra hour for every 1,000 feet or elevation gain. Virginia, Mid-Atlantic Trail Crew, Trail relocation at Sand Spring Photo courtesy of Ted Martello, Appalachian Trail Conservancy Each year, more than six thousand volunteers invest about 200,000 hours of labor toward making the Trail accessible, safe, and enjoyable for those who follow its path. Plan your menu for a three-day hike, accounting for the total weight of supplies carried, as well as the caloric demand for the hike, which varies according to each person s weight, age, gender, level of activity, and metabolism. You can estimate that walking rapidly will burn 300 calories/hour; hiking steep grades burns far more calories, especially if you re carrying a loaded pack. Serious hikers can easily burn 4,000 5,000 calories a day. Plan carefully! Calculate mileage between specific points along the Trail, or calculate how many days it would take to travel specific distances. Document the temperature ranges one would encounter during each of the four seasons on four specific portions of the Trail. Locate the lowest point and the highest elevation in each state on the Trail, and determine which state has the biggest difference between those two measurements. Find out what provisions were made by the Pack Horse Library Project introduced by President F. D. Roosevelt in the 1930s. (www.kdla.ky.gov/resources/kybookmobiles.htm newdeal.feri.org/works/wpa07.htm Down Cut Skin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky by Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Schmitzer) Learn how to calculate distance by using map keys. Calculate total mileage to the five places in the United States you would most like to visit, from your home. Moody Mountain, Maine Photo courtesy of Cynthia Taylor-Miller, Appalachian Trail Conservancy Page 3 Science Research one kind (or several kinds) of animals that can be found along the Trail in each state. Write a report about each one; include drawings or photographs of each animal. Make a poster that depicts which animals can be found on the Trail. Scientists use motion-triggered cameras at night (when fewer humans would be afoot) to capture images of animals that live along the Trail. This website provides information, images, and even sound clips from more than 150 amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles whose habitats cross the Appalachian Trail: View the images found here: html. Be sure to read the commentary to learn interesting facts, such as the fact that some black bears used the mounted cameras to scratch those hard-to-get-to spots! Explore these websites for additional information about A.T. animals: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/appalachian_trail, and Hiking the complete Trail requires about 5 million footsteps! Learn about birds that can be observed along the Trail. The Conservancy s website even offers recordings of eight birdcalls that can be heard by hikers (www. appalachiantrail.org, The Trail/About the Trail/Plants and Animals/Bird Calls). Choose a time of year when you would most like to hike a particular portion of the Appalachian Trail. Research which constellations would be visible during that time period; diagram each of them and write a brief description of each. A variety of lessons and worksheets about constellations can be found at this link: You may also find this website helpful This page provides links to each of the constellations, which includes a diagram and brief history of each: starryskies.com/the_sky/constellations/index.html. This website, starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov, offers a variety of lessons and information about the solar system. Study about insects found along the Trail during each of the four seasons. Learn how to avoid these types of insect bites, treat insect bites, identify poisonous insects and/or reptiles, etc. Learn how to appropriately treat a variety of snakebites that may be suffered along the Trail. Graph the average high and low temperatures along the Trail for any given month(s) in any or all of the states (or at designated locations along the Trail). Bog Bridge, North of Griffin Lake, Vermont Photo courtesy of Laurie Potteiger, Appalachian Trail Conservancy Page 4 During the colder seasons of the year, hikers must stay warm yet wear clothing that is lightweight. Research the sources of down, determine which down is the best insulating material known, and find out how it is collected and used in clothing. Identify at least twenty types of trees found along the Trail. Find out how many of those trees can be found within 100 miles of your home. Collect samples of as many of these tree leaves as possible, and make rubbings of each type of leaf. Younger children may enjoy creating personalized placemats for the family by sealing collected leaf samples between two pieces of waxed paper. Older siblings or a parent should operate an iron on its lowest setting, to seal the leaves between the sheets of waxed paper. Physical Education Serious hikers must be physically fit in order to succeed and enjoy any hiking adventure, especially a lengthy one. Students can explore the myriad of ways to get in shape as they learn about a variety of exercise: aerobic, cardiovascular, flexibility, endurance, muscle strengthening, etc. Tailor the ideas below to match your family s interests and abilities, from the very youngest family members to Mom and Dad! Find out how to become a short-term volunteer with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Write a report about your findings, and consider participating in a weeklong adventure, individually or as a family. According to the website, no previous trail experience is necessary just a desire to work hard, live in the backcountry and have a great time among friends. Trail Crews tackle large-scale projects such as trail relocations, rehabilitation and bridge and shelter construction. (www.appalachiantrail.org/site/c.mqltiyowglf/b /k.a6d7/trail_crews.htm) Learn about the different benefits of jogging, walking, and running as forms of daily exercise. Set goals and maintain them for a minimum of three months. Chart each person s daily exercise, and hold one another accountable to reach established goals. At the end of three months, compare each person s heart rate with what it was when the exercise routines were initiated. Attend a track meet at a local high school or college. Ask an athlete or coach to share why he participates in the sport, what commitments are involved, the challenges, the rewards, etc. Research five basic exercises that can strengthen leg muscles and improve cardiovascular health. Establish daily exercise goals, and keep a record of each family member s participation for a month. Create an obstacle course in your backyard, and set aside a time each day to enjoy it. Assign one state name from the A.T. to each element of the obstacle course, chronologically, from south to north. Record the amount of time each child requires to successfully navigate the course. After two weeks of daily practice, calculate each child s improvement and celebrate! McAfee Knob, Virginia Photo courtesy of Bob Stimson, Appalachian Trail Conservancy Pa
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