Biology Classes Take a Field Trip to Mammoth Cave


Syra Lundergan

Sophomores Ryleigh Boles, Samantha Nelson, Farrah Marreez, Sarah Hilbert, and Izzy Gorin inside of Mammoth Cave.

Syra Lundergan, Writer

On April 5-6, science teacher Jonathan Fairbanks, sophomore counselor Tara Graziano, and permanent substitute Blake Wheeler had the honor of taking the Central Hardin biology classes to Mammoth Cave National Park to learn the ins and outs of the park’s ecosystems, as well as wrap up research for their project based learning.

“The goal was to identify a problem with the Mammoth Cave ecosystem and then find a potential solution for that problem,” Fairbanks said.

Upon the early morning arrival, the students were greeted by Ranger Rachel, Ranger Branden, and Ranger Christian. The rangers led the group through the cave covering a range of topics from stalagmites to eyeless fish and were more than happy to answer any questions.

“My favorite part was when Farrah Marreez asked how many grams of protein the cave salamanders were,” sophomore Samantha Nelson said.

Students exiting the interior of the Mammoth Cave. (Syra Lundergan)

The students had the opportunity to participate in the “total darkness” experience of the dim labyrinth, visit an in-cave waterfall, and walk through “fat man’s misery” as well as “tall man’s agony.”

Following the nearly two-hour cave tour, the rangers led the students along Sloans Crossing Pond walk to discuss the abiotic and biotic factors of the ecosystems around the cave.

Before returning to CHHS, the students had the chance to eat lunch with the rangers and ask any lingering questions. The overall consensus seemed to be that all of the biology classes enjoyed the encounter immensely and it offered a real-world connection to their learning.

“I’ve been teaching biology for 12 years, and we’ve never done anything with Mammoth Cave at all when we’re 45 minutes away from the largest cave system in the world, so just going was the best part,” Fairbanks concluded.