This week's Whiz Kid column features a group of middle school SAIL students from , Hazelwood Northwest and Hazelwood Southeast middle schools that recently visited the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee for a week to explore history and science.
SAIL is the ’s middle school gifted program.
Sonja Brewer, the SAIL teacher at Hazelwood Southeast Middle School, Carrie Sansone at Hazelwood Northwest Middle and John DeGuire at Hazelwood West, accompanied the students.
“It was a fun experience,” said Brandy Williams, a seventh grader at Hazelwood Southeast Middle, in a HSD press release. “I could do it again.”
Brandy said the group learned about how invasive species change habitats and how even slight environmental changes can affect wildlife. The students tested water in the Tennessee River to determine if rainbow trout could live in the river.
The group visited The Hermitage, which was President Andrew Jackson’s home, hiked to a waterfall and recorded stream data, along with getting a little bit closer to Mother Nature.
“It was peaceful there; the river was soothing,” said Meredith Linn, an eighth grader at Hazelwood West Middle School. "There was no trash and no cell phone service."
The group also visited Fort Donelson National Park. A former Confederate fort built on the Cumberland River. The park is now home to hiking trails, a Civil War cemetery, a monument and artifacts from the battle such as cannons and trenches.
Students also enjoyed visiting Lookout Mountain, which rises more than 2,000 feet above sea level. It was the site of a Civil War battle, according to an HSD press release, where and-to-hand combat between Union and Confederate forces took place approximately halfway up the mountain.
At the end of each day, students memorized and sang campfire songs such as “Ain’t No Bugs on Me,” while they discovered bluegrass music and listened to banjo-playing.