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Guest Blogger Mrs. G: Monarchs In Space

December 17, 2009

Hi! Susan Gittinger, Holy Cross fourth-grade teacher, here on the blog today.

I wanted to share news about the Monarchs In Space program our 4th-graders are involved with this year. Monarch caterpillars were sent into space on Atlantis – scientists are studying the effects of near zero gravity on the development of the larva.  They invited schools to parallel the experiment.  Well, they wanted 20 schools and had over 800 responses.  Since we are already connected with the monarch program through our butterfly garden (we are an official monarch way station), I really wanted into the program, so I begged.  They opened up a Plan B for us.

We built our own model monarch habitat (those silly Plan A people just had to assemble a kit… No creativity required there!), and we have the caterpillars in the room.

I pull up pictures from the space station so the kids can compare ours to the “alien larva”.  I think it will be more interesting when we compare how the butterflies learn to fly.  I don’t know how zero gravity will affect those in space.

It wasn’t really directly tied to our next unit in science, but it is a real scientific experiment and just too cool to pass up. (I figured digestion connects to nutrition, and nutrition connects to pollination because producers are the basis of our food supply, and food supply connects to a healthy skeletal and musculature system, and later will connect to care of God’s creation, which is both a science and Catholic Social Teaching strand. Follow?)

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