Symbolic Butterflies Build Bridges of Communication and Friendship
I love this story. As a Bangor resident I get a Communique newspaper every so often to let me know how my tax dollars are enriching our community through our schools. I like to see the kids having fun and learning but this story caught my attention and my heart because I have always been a big fan of Monarch Butterflies and because I have family that lives in Mexico and having gone there I know what a beautiful hard working people they are. So here is what the kids at Fruit Street School have been doing…
Second graders at Fruit St. School have been conducting a Monarch Migration Project for several years. The project began simply with an opportunity to witness an insect life cycle in a few weeks and has grown to an entire year revolving around the Monarch Butterfly life cycle, migration, its’ impact on our continent, and how children can make a difference in our world. The project has broad reaching educational opportunities. The monarch migration project serves to teach children about insect life cycles, show the dependence on natural and man-made factors for their survival, lays groundwork for the interconnectedness of our planet with plants, animals, environment and human intervention, and develops an ambassador-type friendship with many Mexican school children through our participation in Journey North’s Symbolic Migration opportunity.
Beginning early in September, the class raises purchased larva and native larva gathered from local fields. Students feed, clean, and monitor their larva by taking daily measurements of the larva and eaten milkweed leaves. They record all observations in a journal. When the monarchs have completed their cycle, emerging from the chrysalis, the class orchestrates a large release. Many butterflies are tagged through kits purchased at monarchwatch.org, and the children are able to track their migration on-line in the classroom. This provides a plethora of data to be sorted, understood, and manipulated by the students, touching on topics of pollination, plants, insects, animals, geography and math.
This project reaches beyond Bangor, Maine or the United States, by reaching out to Mexico and teaching about ambassadorship as the Monarch migration helps support many poor Mexican villages with an influx of tourists hoping to view this migration phenomenon. It provides a real life purpose for teaching American children about the Spanish culture and language.
The students at Fruit St. joined the international community of friends by participating in Journey North’s Symbolic Migration Project. Monarchs connect people across North America as they migrate across international borders. Symbolic paper butterflies serve as ambassadors to represent our shared interests and common conservation goals. The class sends a large paper butterfly along with many small butterflies with messages for the Mexican school children. Those children care for the paper butterflies all winter and send them back to the United States in the spring. In May, Fruit St. will receive a cluster of butterflies and a class butterfly with messages from the Mexican students. We will plot their origination and enter their final destination on maps provided by Journey North. In past years, we have received butterflies from as far away as California.