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Playlist 4th Grade: Monarch Butterfly Conservation Project
4th Grade: Monarch Butterfly Conservation Project
Project Package/Planning
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Reading Integration and Online Resources
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Writing Integration

Writing integration took on a number of forms. First, students built background knowledge by researching and writing a Monarch Waystation brochure that would eventually be passed out at a local Earthday Fair. Secondly, they wrote persuasive essays imploring parents to build backyard monarch waystations in their own yards.

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Math Integration

The integration of math took on two forms. First, students learned measurement and scale by investigating the definition of a square yard. Students looked at plant density as it applied to the parameters defined by Monarch Alert and Monarch Waystation Certification. Students then investigated the number of plants that could fit in varied planters/graph paper representing different sized gardens. The second integration of math incorporated measurement and scale as students designed, planned, and constructed planter box prototypes. These prototypes would later become backyard monarch waystations.

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Monarch Conservation & Student Citizen Scientist

Conservation efforts are being conducted east and west of the Rocky Mountains. Students can get involved in a number of ways and become Citizen Scientists. Below are a number of links and efforts to get involved.

Monarch Waystations

I simply define a monarch waystation as a garden marked as a station or a stopping point where Monarch Butterflies stop to feed, and lay eggs as they proceed through their migratory patterns. Unfortunately, not a great deal of research and data has been collected from Monarchs on the west of the Rocky Mountains. Monarchs of the East of the Rocky Mountains are largely known for their 3,000 mile migration patterns from central Mexico north through Northern United States and Canada and then back. By creating a Monarch Waystation at your school or your home, you can engage students in a number of monarch conservation efforts. By becoming involved in these conservation efforts, students can earn the title of Student Citizen Scientists. These types of projects can easily be identified as S.T.E.M. or S.T.E.A.M. projects and are grounded in service-base learning, thus creating relevance in student learning.

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Monarch Butterfly Tagging

This is a way to monitor Monarch migration patterns by looking at movement during specific times of the year, during seasons, specific weather and climate patterns.

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OE Parasite Testing

This is a way to see patterns of OE parasites in Monarch Butterflies. OE Parasites take on the form of spores that are ingested as Monarch Caterpillars consume milkweed. Once the caterpillars take on their chrysalis form, the parasite is no longer dormant and then begins to damage the Monarch Butterfly from within the chrysalis. Once the adult butterfly emerges, it may have crumpled wings that will never properly form. This will also cause monarchs to be much weaker and have a significantly shorter lifespan. One theory states that Monarchs migrate because of the OE parasite. By migrating, weaker monarchs infected with the OE parasite die off while stronger monarchs are able to reproduce. There are specific ways to test for the OE Parasite. Please contact Dr. Villablanca at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for more information and for testing training and kits.

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Monarch Larva Monitoring Project

This is a project led by the University of Michigan that collects data from the public in order to monitor the overall health of Monarch Butterflies in various volunteer sites around the U.S. In this project, my students identified our Monarch Waystation as an MLMP site and began monitoring the health of our "migratory" and "resident" monarch butterflies. The way to monitor a site is by collecting data on the number and types of milkweed (Host plants) that are in your garden, systematically count the number of eggs, caterpillars, and butterflies found in your monarch waystation or butterfly garden. The data collected is reported on the MLMP website on a regular basis.

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