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PDS Monarch Butterfly Project Promotes STEAM Learning

PDS Monarch Butterfly Project Promotes STEAM Learning
2. A group of Princeton Day School teachers, with Interim Head of Middle School (and avid butterfly enthusiast) Alesia Klein, sets about releasing a monarch butterfly for its annual migration to Mexico

Cross-Divisional Project Promotes STEAM Learning

Princeton – Princeton Day School Upper School Science teacher Barbara Maloney worked with fellow teachers to organize a cross-divisional project focusing on monarch butterflies and their annual migration to Mexico. She worked closely with Interim Head of Middle School Alesia Klein, who has been a part of Monarch Watch, an education, conservation, and research program based at the University of Kansas that focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat, and its spectacular fall migration for many years. Mrs. Maloney envisioned a school-wide STEAM learning project combining science, literature, music, and even the PDS organic garden with the butterfly migration as its focus.


Mrs. Maloney said of the project, “Last year at PDS, our mission to help the monarchs migrate to Mexico, became a part of the curricula in the 5th grade with Maryann Ortiz and Linda Rubens, in 9th grade Biology with Carlos Cara, myself, and Carrie Norin, and in Upper School Energy Systems with Brian Mayer. All of the students received butterfly larvae and took care of them, cleaning their containers and feeding them milkweed, for close to a month. They all watched and documented their metamorphosis from caterpillars into beautiful butterflies. Before their butterflies were released on their journey, each butterfly was carefully tagged on its wing, with an ID number. All of the data sheets will be sent to Monarch Watch and we will be notified if and where our butterflies have been found.”


PDS Garden Coordinator Pam Flory played an important role in the program by planting three large fields of milkweed for the hungry caterpillars.


The project culminated in a butterfly releasing party on Friday, October 10 with at least 150 students from all 3 divisions and a beautiful cake decorated with butterflies baked by PDS Chef Brian Mochnal. In the Lower School, 1st grade teacher Karen Pike prepared her students by reading a book about monarchs. A 5th grade student read the a Native American Legend about butterflies, and the Upper School girls a cappella group sang a traditional song, “Goin’ Down To Mexico (The Monarch Butterfly Song)” at the party.

Mrs. Maloney remarked, “We released the butterflies and as we watched them fly far up into the sky we were all amazed by their breathtaking beauty.”


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