Teaching in the Environmental Resources STEM Academy at Tomlin Middle School, you can bet I was stoked to visit the National Ecological Institute in Korea. This place was not on the original agenda, having just opened on December 27, 2013, so a big shout out goes to Howard Poole for finding this ecological park.
Within this Ecoplex lies the Ecorium, which is composed of various greenhouses and controlled environments in order to reproduce the global ecosystem of five different climatic zones ranging from topical to polar regions. This was a project by the government to educate the public and become a hub for ecological research on ecosystems and create a home for many plant and wildlife species.
Each ecosystem is carefully created with educational signs and interactive learning zones throughout the complex. Don't speak Korean. No worries!!! There is a headset to wear and you can select your language so that you don't miss all the educational information given about the plant and animal species living in the different zones.
This Ecoplex is located three hours southwest of Seoul, which gave us the opportunity to take a scenic drive through the mountainous country to see all of the agriculture fields, greenhouses and farms sprinkled throughout the valleys and along side the mountains on both sides of the road.
As we walked through the first greenhouse we saw beautiful tropical plants native to rain forests. Many of these plants were recognizable from living in the sub-tropical climate in Florida. We also experienced the feel of being in a desert ecosystem which simulated those found in Africa and the U.S. This was one of my favorite climatic zones since I have never been to a desert. We saw lots of aquariums with fish and reptiles native to each of the ecosystems. There was wildlife from the arctic regions and tundras, my favorite was watching the prairie dogs play and learning about the polar bears.
I can't wait to share this experience in my classroom when I teach about environmental science and the importance of our ecosystems and how we interact with them to become great Stewards of the land.