Classroom Activities

 

There are basic techniques and fundamental knowledge about monarch butterflies that students need to successfully engage in inquiry-based activities. Students can gain a solid foundation for working with monarchs from a variety of sources. Click here for more information on inquiry-based learning materials using monarchs in the classroom. Additionally, we have created several activities for teachers to use in the classroom to help understand aspects of monarch conservation:

Students raising milkweed and monarchs for classroom projects from Pinecrest 2nd grade class, Greenwood, South Carolina. Photos provided by Anne Marie Glawe

Activity 1: Give your Monarch a physical!

 

This activity allows students to use a MonarchHealth kit to check monarchs for OE parasites and assess physical conditions of the butterflies using measurements such as forewing length, wing damage, and fat storage. This exercise is most appropriate for grades 7-12.

Click here for all activity materials including overview for instructor and classroom worksheets. 


For our teachers in Georgia, click the links below for various Performance Standards Correlation info:

Georgia Life Science (Grade 7) Performance Standards Correlations

Georgia Biology (Grades 9-12) Standards Correlations

Georgia Environmental Science (Grades 9-12) Standards Correlations

 

Photos by Sonia Altizer

Activity 2: Population Dynamics

In this follow up activity to Lesson 1 (Give Your Monarch a Physical!), students will compile and analyze class data for a monarch population. Students will use information from the individual monarch physicals to analyze the physical characteristics of a population of monarch butterflies. They will make mathematical calculations and graphs to describe the population and a typical member of the population. This exercise is most appropriate for grades 7-12.

Click here for all activity materials including overview for instructor and here for classroom worksheets.

 

For our teachers in Georgia, click the links below for various Performance Standards Correlation info:

Georgia Life Science (Grade 7) Performance Standards Correlations

Georgia Biology and Environmental Science (Grades 9-12) Standards Correlations

 

Activity 3: Scales & Spores!

 

This classroom activity allows students to replicate the procedures that scientists in the Altizer lab at the University of Georgia use when analyzing MonarchHealth samples. Students will learn how to identify and count parasite spores and use a standard conversion table to score and describe rates of parasite infection of the butterflies.

Click here for instructor overview and key, here for classroom worksheets, and here for slide images. For our teachers in Georgia, click the links below for various Performance Standards Correlation info:

 

Georgia Life Science (Grade 7) Performance Standards Correlations

Georgia Biology and Environmental Science (Grades 9-12)
Standards Correlations

An example of a slide with both butterfly scales and OE spores. Red arrows indicate OE spores, and yellow arrows show scales. Photo by Andy Davis.

Below are several different photographed slides of various infection levels in monarchs. Copies or transparencies can be used to have students try to count the number of spores in their sample and determine the monarch infection status.

How to Score Monarch Infections: When determining how infected monarchs are with OE, we use the scale below:

 

• 0 spores = 0 ( Not infected, disease-free)

• 1 spore = 1 (Minimal infection)

• 2-20 spores = 2 (Minimal infection)

• 21-100 spores = 3 (Mild infection)

• 101-1000 spores = 4 (Moderate infection)

• > 1000 spores = 5 (Severe infection)

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