As our climate undergoes transformative shifts, the flora along the Georgia coast is evolving, presenting a unique opportunity for exploration and discovery. In the heart of Midway, GA, along the salt pans lining Jones Creek, students will embark on a hands-on journey to monitor the dynamic changes in plant communities within the high marsh area. Through the meticulous practice of quadrat sampling, these young learners will not only witness but actively engage in the documentation of shifts in plant community composition over time. This immersive experience aims to deepen their understanding of the intricate interplay between climate change, sea level fluctuations, and the delicate balance of our coastal ecosystems. By delving into the impact of these environmental factors, students will emerge with valuable insights into the resilience and adaptation of the plant life that forms the backbone of this crucial coastal habitat.
Phase 1: Classroom Learning and Preparation Students will attend interactive classroom sessions to learn about high marsh ecosystems, their significance, and the importance of salt pans within these habitats. They will explore various plant species that thrive in the salt pans and understand their ecological roles and adaptations. Phase 2: Field Trip to the High Marsh Accompanied by knowledgeable instructors and educators, students will embark on a field trip to the high marsh area, focusing on the salt pans. Here, they will immerse themselves in the ecosystem\'s sights and sounds, observing the various plant species and their adaptations to the marsh environment. Phase 3: Setting Up Quadrant Plots In small groups, students will actively participate in setting up quadrant plots using PVC pipes. These plots will serve as controlled areas for observing and recording the plant species and their percent cover within the salt pans habitat. Phase 4: Data Collection and Observation Equipped with field notebooks, measuring tools, and identification guides, students will meticulously collect data on the plant species present in each quadrant plot. They will record their observations on species diversity and abundance.