Hands on learning

by / 0 Comments / 3 View / April 25, 2014

Published April 24, 2014

By Devin Corbitt, News Editor

Last Thursday, the second graders of Sparta Elementary School in Belton began putting the information they are learning in the classroom into practice to help a species in need by planting a garden.
Second grade teacher Beth Duncan hopes to transform the garden into a way station for Monarch butterflies as they migrate north for the summer.
“When I saw that the Monarch butterflies were in jeopardy, that’s where my initial idea came from,” Duncan said. “Last year teaching science, we taught about the life cycles of butterflies. I saw the beds outside and thought, ‘What a great way to teach the kids and preserve the habitat for the butterflies.’ Butterflies are such a passion for me.”
This project comes at a perfect time, as the students are eagerly absorbing information about plant and animal life cycles in the classroom.
“They love it,” Duncan said. “They were so excited about having the opportunity. All morning they kept talking about how excited they were about planting a garden, and even their excitement when they saw things like grubs in the dirt, they thought was really neat.”
In order to begin the way station, Duncan visited monarchwatch.org and ordered Monarch Waystation Seed Kits, which provided her and the students with packets containing Monarch-attracting flower seeds.
“Monarch Watch monitors the migration routes and how many (butterflies) are coming up through that to make sure we protect them as much as we can,” Duncan said. “You have to have 10 plants, and then you take a picture of it and send in the information to get it certified.”
The kits include three types of milkweed, as well as six varieties of general nectar flowers.
The plants will take two to four weeks to bloom and should be ready just in time for the Monarchs’ arrival in Bell County. In the mean time, the second grade staff has designed scientific lesson plans centered around the gardening project, including learning how to tend the garden.
For more information on Monarch butterflies or starting a way station, visit monarchwatch.org.