monarch butterfly

4-H enriches science education by challenging critical thinking skills related to lifecycles

In *All, Pollinator Week, Youth, Family, & Communities by AgIsAmerica

Knowledge of the animal life cycles is a core learning area Kentucky students. Especially important are the life cycles of pollinators like butterflies. This has lead Extension Agents to work closely with local school teachers to partner in addressing this need.

In Kenton County, 4-H Youth Development and Horticulture agents collaborated with 10 teachers from 4 school districts in the county. Over 950 students in kindergarten through 6th grade participated in guided hands-on science investigations using Project Butterfly Winning Investigation Network for Great Science (WINGS) curriculum.

Students identified needs for living things, recorded the life cycle stages of butterflies, and discovered the responsibility of caring for living things. Project Butterfly Winning Investigation Network for Great Science (WINGS) is an alternative way to teach life cycle instead of the embryology project (hatching chicks) since some public health organizations have concerns about children touching animals which could result in bacterial illness (i.e. e coli, salmonella).

In order to replicate the butterfly projects schools need an adequate amount of milkweed to supply the classrooms. Milkweed is usually mowed and sprayed which impacts pollinator safety and survival. The 4-H Youth Development Agent conducted orientation sessions providing teachers with information on habitats, caterpillars, milkweed sources, and caterpillar care instructions. The agent communicated regularly and made multiple site visits for insect care. Students observed the life cycle of the monarch butterfly (egg, caterpillar, pupa, and butterfly) and related their observations to other species (i.e. birds, fish, or amphibians). Students identified parts of the butterfly and described the process of metamorphosis.

Source: National Impacts Database

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