June 26 saw the unveiling of a special science project undertaken by the Grade 2 class of Elkhorn School. The project was the result of a science lesson in which students learned the life cycle of various creatures, which included the butterfly. In the course of their studies, they became aware of the fact that as a result of human impact, the monarch butterfly is an endangered species.
Students learned that the spray used on crops kills the milkweed plants, which butterflies need when they are caterpillars. So the class and their teacher, Racquel Halland, undertook a project to help monarch butterflies. They began fundraising, and with grants from various foundations and contributions from individuals and companies, they were able to have six raised flowerbeds constructed on the school grounds.
To fill their flowerbeds, they purchased native wildflowers from a nursery in Selkirk specializing in native plant species.
From the Monarch Homestead in Melita, they obtained monarch caterpillar raising kits, which included a bug cage, milkweed, a monarch caterpillar and instructions for caring for it.
The students also provided milkweed seeds and information to households in the community.
Monarch caterpillars eat strictly milkweed for sustenance but the species has lost over 90 percent of its population in the last decade mostly due to loss of plants. Caterpillars use milkweed toxins as a defense mechanism against predators.
The students presented their project to interested community members at an open house held at the school. Halland said, "It was a great learning opportunity for the students. It tied into many outcomes in the curriculum, not only in science but also math, English language arts, social studies and art. It was a wonderful hands-on project for the students."
Facts about the monarch by Elkhorn Grade 2s:
Paxton, Braxton, Grayson - Monarch butterflies are an endangered species.
Austin, Tyson B, Tyson A - Monarchs taste with their feet.
Blair, McKayla, Jenna - Monarch butterflies don't like getting their wings wet so they find shelter when it's raining.
Alexa, Olivia, Sinead - For every 160 monarch butterflies that there used to be, now there is only ONE.
Hayden, Peyton, Halle - Monarchs onlylay their eggs on milkweed plants.