Each fall, kindergarten students get a hands-on experience while learning about the life cycles of Monarch butterflies. Not only do they observe as the butterflies emerge from their chrysalises, they learn how to tag them with a small sticker and release them. After recording the butterfly’s gender and tag number, the butterflies are free to migrate to their overwintering grounds in Mexico and the children returned to being physically distant. Here, Kindergarten Teacher Stacy Peterson and her students carefully tagged and released the butterflies that emerged from their chrysalises while in her classroom.
The teachers upload the tag information to an online database, which they are able to check over the coming months to see if any of their butterflies completed their journey to Mexico. Over the years, USM teachers have noted that several of the butterflies released by their classes have made it to Mexico.
The event is an extension of the students’ classroom learning about the life cycles of different plants and animals, including butterflies, apples, and more.
Tagging and releasing butterflies is one of several ways students study the insects. Lower School science teacher Andrew Stone created a Monarch waystation on campus in 2018 by working with students to plant common milkweed and other nectar-producing plants in a dedicated area on campus, which provide Monarchs with the energy needed to journey to overwintering grounds in Mexico.