Petals And Wings: Let’s Work Together
Bob Noe, Docent
Donna Dupske, Manager of Educational Services
The Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House
“Educate the community about butterflies and invertebrates in general, to install excitement and curiosity about the insect world and to build an ethic of care and conservation.”
It’s a marvelous guiding statement, and means that … well…. we at the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House will let our visitors learn about the earth and its inhabitants, before we ask them to save them.
To accomplish this goal within the education presentations, we refer to the Conservation Messages, compiled by the Conservation Education Committee, of American Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in March of 2000. These are lists of goals and objectives that have been distributed to all member zoos and aquariums, to be utilized by the education departments of those institutions. http://www.aza.org/ConEd/ConMessages/
Message: The human experience requires a connection to nature. These experiences in wild places in our community enrich our lives and inspire our choices for future generations.
Nature provides wondrous places to play and recreate, to explore, to be creative, to learn and enjoy both as individuals and with our friends and families.
Variety of life on Earth, its biodiversity, is both essential and inspirational for human existence.Four presentations from The Butterfly House allow for students to appreciate the existence of butterflies and other insects, by introducing the scientific facts of the animals.
For instance, preschool children will learn the life cycle and anatomy of butterflies and caterpillars through a series of puppets in Story of a Butterfly, allowing the children to assist with the molting process of the life cycle. “Creatively making” their own small butterfly, with the three body parts and four wings on a small puzzle gives children some control. Children “buzz” at the challenge of learning the correct terminology associated with each stage and piece.
Butterfly Biology reinforces most classroom lessons by reviewing the metamorphosis and anatomy of the butterfly for first through third grade classes. Students begin to learn about and enjoy the diversity of the insect world. We point out the animals on display, and their cousins, can be found around everyone’s home, and that the flowers or trees near them are the safe places they live. Removing them from those safe places is not good for caterpillars, or any other insect that might be found.
Third through fifth grade students are shown the diversity of the insect world through the two different life cycles and twelve tropical species of butterflies in Living the Butterfly Life. Even the life cycles of insects show the variety of life, such as the incomplete metamorphosis, as exhibited by cockroaches. Multiple changes can also be found within the complete metamorphosis, exhibited in butterflies. Through a process of yes/no questions, children identify twelve different butterflies with a dichotomous key and many scientific terms.
With our newest class, Wings of Wonder, we hope to extend the teacher’s preparation in a butterfly unit, with biofacts of the stages of metamorphosis and living cockroaches for anatomy lessons. Exploring the Tropical Conservatory to gather data concerning the essential behaviors of our tropical butterflies finishes the class.
Each of these options creates the opportunity to explore a “wild” area and its inhabitants, and see for themselves the diversity of the environment and its inhabitants.
Message: All life on Earth exists within an ecosystem.
Ecosystems are made of interdependent relationships between groups of living things (biodiversity) and their physical environment. Children will become aware that animals live within a specific area, a habitat that fills their food, water, air, and shelter needs. They can be introduced to the meadow, through Hide a Butterfly, or a garden, through Petals and Wings.
Hide a Butterfly, a commercially available program from Lawrence Hall of Science, through the Great Explorations in Math and Science programs, has kindergarten to second grade children creating a small meadow, butterflies to fly in it, and predator birds to cause a little havoc in the world. Edited down to an hour-long presentation, the students participate in a small story about meadows, create their own paper butterfly (accurate with symmetry and camouflage) to play in the meadow and nectar from flowers, while avoiding the mean and hungry birds.
Petals and Wings was created by a team of docents in 2005, to truly showcase the interdependence of flowers and butterflies, as can be seen within The Butterfly House’s Tropical Conservatory and the lush outdoor gardens of the facility. Concentrating on the growth cycles of butterflies and seeds, each kindergarten to first grade child gets a chance to participate in the compilations of facts and materials to show the story of growth in the garden.
Each presentation demonstrates one habitat where butterflies can be found, and through camouflage or pollination help themselves or the flowers.
Message: Through informed actions, we can positively impact ecosystems. Sharing our knowledge and feelings about wildlife and wild places is one action.
Being “informed” means considering multiple points of view is another action. One common science lesson in kindergarten is five senses, and using this, students can learn about a butterfly’s anatomy and its five senses, in our presentation of Butterfliez. Seeing the five senses from another view is a new experience for most of the youngsters. A brief review of the four stages of metamorphosis prepares the students to find the colors and shapes within the Tropical Conservatory, using a Conservatory Touring Guide.
Hypothesizing the factors determining the speed of butterfly flight is the approach to How Butterflies Fly, the class specifically designed for middle and high school students. Coming to appreciate the warm and humid atmosphere of the Tropical Conservatory, and the multitude of things needed to allow butterflies and other insects to do something as simple as fly, enables students to appreciate the various ecosystems of our area and other places.
In addition to the embedded conservation messages within the presentations, one short presentation shows our continued effort toward conservation. Each docent also has the option of including the photos of one particular butterfly farm and its processes for maintaining rainforest habitats and creating an economic livelihood for the citizens of the community. By showing how someone so far away is being helped by a local resource, we live up to our conservation mission.
Butterflies can be the ambassadors for the great outdoors. By helping young children become aware of the critical components in their environment, we build an appreciation. Learning about the vital insects within various habitats that must be conserved, in order to maintain these areas, can help with the transition from childhood interest to adult activism.