Butterflies are Free at Tamaques Elementary School

5d7a310609f746b2b49e_31608bfc2d6e9047647e_Charlie_Yu_first_grader_Tamaques.JPG
Tamaques Elementary School first grader Charlie Yu admires a Monarch butterfly with parent volunteer Bianca Wright. Credits: Westfield Public Schools
25c4fc8c9f19f35815c2_fa1dff584b83d4fdaf66_Tamaques_butterfly_Chrysalis_3_students.jpg
Tamaques first grade teacher Mary Montes shows the Chrysalis stage of a Monarch Butterfly on the leaf of a Milk Weed plant to students (from front) Cody Politi, Zena Green and Charlie Yu. Credits: Westfield Public Schools
5d7a310609f746b2b49e_31608bfc2d6e9047647e_Charlie_Yu_first_grader_Tamaques.JPG

Hundreds of monarch butterflies are making their way to Mexico this month thanks to the care of first grade students and their fifth grade buddies in Westfield’s Tamaques Elementary School. More than 200 butterflies raised by the students were tagged and released with the hope that they will return next year to feast on the special garden created for their development.

The life cycle of the butterfly was nurtured in and out of the school’s classrooms over many months, starting with the planting in the school’s garden of nectar-producing flowers which attract butterflies. Milkweed – the host plant of a Monarch Butterfly -- also was grown for the butterflies to lay their eggs that turned into caterpillars. Next, each caterpillar formed a Chrysalis – a special protective wrap. The final metamorphosis took place in an enclosed indoor environment and the butterflies emerged ready to take flight.    

Parent volunteers Diane Genco, Donna Dwyer and Bianca Wright, who have studied the migration process, worked with Tamaques teachers to ensure the best growing environment for the butterflies. 

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“We reached a 90 percent survival rate indoors; the survival rate in the wild is five percent,”explained Dwyer.

“We are so grateful for these parents leading us – quite literally down this path,” stated first grade teacher Mary Montes. “We have identified eggs on the milkweed leaves, watched the caterpillars grow, observed the forming of many chrysalides – which is incredible to see, witnessed the butterflies emerge, and released them together.” 

In addition to this science exploration, cross-curricula lessons were developed which included writing about the life cycle and documenting observations in garden journals, locating Mexico on maps, learning about migration, and measuring and creating life-size paper Monarchs.

When asked how he felt about the multi-stage project, first grader Charlie Yu responded, “The best part was when the butterflies emerge,” On one of the recent release days, when a butterfly remained on his hand momentarily upon releasing it, he said, “I felt extraordinary!”

 

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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