Citizen Science in The Classroom: Monarch Migration

By September 8th, 2014 at 10:19 pm | Comment

Editor’s Note: This post has been republished and shared in celebration of SciStarter’s Back To School campaign where you will find 10 citizen science projects aligned with Next Generation Science Standards.

 

Using Journey North’s Monarch Project to Meet Common Core and Next Generation Teaching Standards

Journey North 3

Journey North supports a variety of citizen science projects, including monarch migration. (Photo: Journey North)

Citizen Science and Monarch Migration as a Teaching Tool

Grades:

K-12th

Description:

Journey North (JN) is a citizen science project for the observation and tracking of seasonal weather changes and phenology or life cycle changes in animals and plants. This website is an amazing resource and interactive platform for teachers. There’s so much information that they provide that it’s almost jaw dropping. On their site you’ll find how your class can participate in tracking everything from seasonal changes in daylight to migrations of humming birds, whales, and even flower blooming. One of the most popular citizen science projects on their site is the monarch butterfly project. In this project students and teachers can learn about the life cycles of monarchs, their natural history, and migration. Students may look for monarchs in their local area and report observations of eggs, larvae, pupa, and adults. This project encompasses much more than just observations. The content provided on their site includes geography, historical and real-time data, ecological conservation, life cycles, reading comprehension and more.

Journey north 4

Journey North support real-time data and mapping of monarch sightings, which are useful geography tools for the classroom. (Photo: Journey North)

Materials You’ll Need:

  • A computer with internet access.
  • A printer that can print in color (preferably).
  • Optional: milkweed plants and flowers that may be conducive for monarch food, water, or shelter.

Why This Citizen Science Project is a Strong Candidate for the Classroom:

  • This project can be done either in or out of the classroom and in or out of urban areas.
  • It requires very little equipment or tools.
  • Usable data, graphs, maps, reading materials, and lesson plans, and identification tools are provided on the site.
  • You can meet almost every standard of Common Core and Next. Gen standards with this project and all the resources provided on the site.
  • Teachers can use the lessons provided even if they don’t participate in the project.
  • Students learn geography and science together.
  • Students obtain a “sense of place” by making local observations and contributing to a global observation effort that can be seen in “real-time” on the site’s maps.
  • Zero data can be useful, which teaches children about the importance of collecting all types of data.
  • Uploading data is safe and children remain anonymous, it’s put in as a class.
  • They have a free app that you can use in the field with a smart phone so you’re not tied to the classroom for uploading data. Students can put in their observations in real time.

Teaching Materials:

Supplied on Journey North’s Website you’ll find a while host of videos, reading materials, maps, slide shows, downloadable data, and more. There is also a teacher’s guide that can help you find introductory lessons and more information for your lessons. They also offer the ability to be monarch “ambassadors” and exchange cards with schools in South America through their “symbolic migration” butterfly card program.

Online Safety for Children

Teachers create one account for uploading data for their entire class so no specific student data is needed. They do ask that you put in your address and provide an e-mail. They also ask you what grade you teach and approximately how many students are in that grade.  After one initial registration you don’t need to do anything more except log in and begin recording observations. A log-in is not required to access all the free lesson support materials on the site.

mobile jn

Journey North has a free mobile app for uploading your observations. (Photo: Journey North)

Common Core and Next Gen. Standards Met:

Kindergarten:

Next. Gen. Science:

K-LS-1 Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals need to survive.

Teachers may print the mini-books or use the slide shows on the website about food, temperature, and habitat and explore the resources that monarchs need to survive. There is also information on their resources page and facts pages about food, water, and shelter with great photos.

K-ESS3-1 Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants or animals and the places they live.

Teachers may use the resources about monarch life cycles and migrations on the kid’s pages and then have children draw on maps where butterflies life in winter and summer along with milkweed plants. Students could also create clay models of the life cycle of the monarch on and around milkweed plants.

K-ESS3-3 Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air, and/or other living things in the local environment.

Teachers may use the “People and Monarchs” link provided and then use their connection to the El Rosario Monarch Sanctuary link in Google Earth to show students a map of the wintering grounds in Mexico, and how they are threatened by de-forestation. Students should then suggest solutions.

Common Core:

Literacy:  

RI.K.1 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text. See above for reading materials and information about monarchs. W.K.2 use a combination of drawing, dictating, or writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic. SL.K.5 Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail. W.K.7 Participate in shared research and writing projects.

See above projects which include research and writing. Students may label their maps and models in the projects listed above to meet all of these standards.

Math:

MP.4 Model with mathematics. Teachers may pull up a real-time map of the sightings of monarchs to date. Students may count the location of monarch sightings and use the symbols to track monarch migration progress, using “more” or “less” of each symbol representing date range sightings. If participating in the project, during Spring or Fall, counting of butterflies and observations should be used.

First Grade:

Next. Gen. Science:

1-LS1-2 Read texts and use media to determine patterns in behavior of parents and offspring that help offspring survive. 1-LS3-1 Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like their parents.

Teachers may print the mini-books and life cycle diagrams found in the “kids” pages of the JN website or use the “facts page” for information. They may then have students relate how the behavior of the parents help the young survive, and also how offspring and adults are different (metamorphosis). The slide shows on the resource pages are also useful for information about migration and why the adults migrate.

1-ESS1-2 Make observations at different times of year to relate to the amount of daylight to the time of year.

Teachers may use JN’s “Mystery Class” lesson plans on daylight length and measurement, and then relate this to sightings of monarchs on the data and maps downloadable through the monarch project. There is also a slide show and teacher guide about temperature and survival of monarchs that may integrate well with daylight and seasonal temperatures.

Common Core:

Literacy:  

RI1.1 Ask and answer questions about key details in a text. RI.1.2 Identify the main topic and retell key details of a text. W.1.7 Participate in a shared research and writing projects.

The JN monarch project serves as a shared research project, and students may use the texts mentioned above for Next. Gen standards for reading and recall.

Math:

MP.5 Use appropriate tools strategically. Teachers may pull up a real-time map of the sightings of monarchs to date.

Students may count the location of monarch sightings and use the symbols to track monarch migration progress, using “more” or “less” of each symbol representing date range sightings. If participating in the project, during Spring or Fall, counting of butterflies and observations should be used. The students will use the map and key as “tools” used strategically.

facts

Journey North offers a wide range of support materials for the monarch project, including natural history facts. (Photo: Journey North)

Second Grade:

Next. Gen. Science:

2-LS2-2 Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

Teachers may use the resources provided by JN to download information about habitats, food, temperatures, population sizes of monarchs, water, shelter, and space that is found in North America and in Mexico. They may then have children compare graphs and explain the differences. This would also go well with a short lesson in geography and the equator. The maps provided on the site are quite useful. Additionally the “culture” resources on the page make a nice comparison between human diversity and culture between North and South America.

Common Core:

Literacy:  

W.2.7 Participate in shared research and writing projects. W.2.8 Recall information from experience or gather information provided from sources to answer a question.

By participating in the research project on monarch students participate in the shared research project. They may recall from their experiences and conduct research using the resources provided on the JN website, including printable books, slide shows, and graphs.

Math:

MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively. MP.4 Model with mathematics. MP.5 Use appropriate tools strategically. 2.MD.D.10 Draw a picture graph and bar graph (with a single unit scale) to represent a data set with up to four categories.

Teachers may use the data provided on the resources page to upload pre-made graphs to have students read and use, or they may take the data from the graphs and have students draw the graph themselves. Alternately, data may be downloaded for your site’s observations, or collective data for the students to graph and analyze.

Third Grade:

Next. Gen. Science:

3-LS2-1 Construct an argument that some animals form groups that help members survive.

Teachers may use graphs, data, and information from JN’s resources page to discuss Mexico’s Oyamel fir forest, where butterflies form a group in the winter. Students may discuss reasons for the grouping and features of the ecosystem such as the trees, bark, temperatures, and shelter.

3-LS4-3 Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.

Teachers may also use the resources pages to discuss why monarchs choose certain habitats, and the food/shelter/water/temperature needs of monarchs, all of which affects their survival.

3-LS4-4 Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.

Teachers may download the “Conservation in Mexico” information from JN’s website. This includes links for Google Earth so that students may view the butterfly wintering grounds in Mexico and the threat of deforestation. This can also lead into a discussion about conservation of milkweed and migration routes in North America as well as South American wintering grounds.

3-LS1-1 Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.

Teachers may download the life cycle diagrams and use the annual cycle puzzle on a smart board to have students examine the life cycle of monarchs. They may also create their own diagrams. JN’s fact page may be useful for students or teachers that needs background information.

Common Core:

Literacy:  

RI.3.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers. RI.3.2 Determine the main idea of a text; recount key details and explain how they support the main idea.

Teachers may print the mini-books about monarch life cycles, migration, and natural history found in the “kids” pages of the JN website and then have students read and ask questions about the texts and recall details for answering the main ideas.

W.3.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.

Students may also use the resources to research monarch migration and population decline and then create an opinion piece about the reasons for the decline or solutions to help stop the decline.

Math:

MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively. MP.4 Model with mathematics. MP.5 Use appropriate tools strategically.3.MD.B.3 Draw a scaled bar graph to represent a data set with several categories.

Teachers may use the data provided on the resources page to upload pre-made graphs to have students read and use, or they may take the data from the graphs and have students draw the graph themselves. Alternatively, data may be downloaded for your site’s observations, or collective data for the students to graph and analyze. Comparing monarch populations for different seasons and years would fulfill the need to graph several categories of information. JN also provides information on how to statistically quantify populations on their website, including graphs, charts, and a simulation that may be useful.

number crunching

Fourth Grade:

Next. Gen. Science:

4-LS1-1 Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.

Teachers may use JN’s resources page to find information about butterfly migration patterns and behavior, butterfly wings, and anatomy. They may then have students discuss how monarchs innately know how to migrate, how to find the right food plant for laying eggs, and where to go to find the wintering grounds. Teachers can also discuss the physical changes in external and internal structures of metamorphosis. Scientific American has a nice short article on metamorphosis that might help. This is a great YouTube video of the process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AUeM8MbaIk.

Common Core:

Literacy:  

W.4.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, support a point of view with reasons and information.

Students may also use the resources to research monarch migration and population decline and then create an opinion piece about the reasons for the decline or solutions to help stop the decline.

Math:

MP.4 Model with mathematics.

Teachers may use the data provided on the resources page to upload pre-made graphs to have students read and use, or they may take the data from the graphs and have students draw the graph themselves. Alternatively, data may be downloaded for your site’s observations, or collective data for the students to graph and analyze. Comparing monarch populations for different seasons and years would fulfill the need to graph several categories of information. JN also provides information on how to statistically quantify populations on their website, including graphs, charts, and a simulation that may be useful.

Fifth Grade:

Next. Gen. Science:

5-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use scientific ideas to protect the Earth’s resource and the environment.

Teachers may use the materials found on JN’s resources page or the kid’s pages that explain conservation efforts, of monarchs and their wintering forests, in Mexico and Eco-tourism. They may compare this to what efforts may be done in North America to slow the decline of monarch populations. This may include information about tagging monarchs and tracking their populations, though citizen science, such as the JN monarch projects.

Common Core:

Literacy:  

RI.5.1 Quote accurately from a text when explain what the test says. W.5.8 Recall relevant information from experience or gather relevant information from print and digital sources. W.5.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflecting, and research. SL.5.5 Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations.

By participating in the JN monarch project, students may draw from their own experiences, or they may use texts provided on the JN Kid’s pages to find supporting text and information in a digital / print form. They may also download data, graphs, and maps for analysis and a multi-media presentation of their research.

Math:

MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively. MP.4 Model with mathematics. MP.5 Use appropriate tools strategically.

Teachers may use the data provided on the resources page to upload pre-made graphs to have students read and use, or they may take the data from the graphs and have students draw the graph themselves. Alternately, data may be downloaded for your site’s observations, or collective data for the students to graph and analyze. Comparing monarch populations for different seasons and years would fulfill the need to graph several categories of information. JN also provides information on how to statistically quantify populations on their website, including graphs, charts, and a simulation that may be useful.

 

Middle School:

Next. Gen. Science:

MS-LS2-1 Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem. MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystems affect populations.

Students may use data from the JN website to analyze information about wintering monarch populations in Mexico and North America and then discuss how declining resources, and forested habitat, in Mexico may affect future populations. They may construct their arguments using this analysis. Links to Google Earth images are provided on the site, as well as information (satellite images and maps) about forestation and vegetation. JN also provides information on how to statistically quantify populations on their website, including graphs, charts, and a simulation that may be useful.

MS-LS2-2 Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.

Students may use data from the JN website to analyze information about wintering monarch populations in Mexico and North America and then discuss how declining resources, and forested habitat, in Mexico may affect future populations in both North and south America. This should also include some focus on human development in South America near the butterfly wintering grounds. Links to Google Earth images are provided on the site, as well as information (satellite images and maps) about forestation and vegetation. JN also provides information on how to statistically quantify populations on their website, including graphs, charts, and a simulation that may be useful.

MS-LS2-5 Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Using the comparison of data, ecosystems, and deforestation listed in the standards above, students may then develop, design solutions for reducing the monarch population decline and ecosystem services. This may be done as groups, and then presented for evaluation.

Common Core:

Literacy:  

WHSST.6-8.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.WST.6-8.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content. SL.8.5 Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims, and evidence and add interest.

Students may use the NGG projects listed above to research and write information about monarch populations and design solutions for decreasing population decline. They may present their research, analysis, and conclusions in multimedia format.

Math:

MP.4 Model with mathematics.

Data may be downloaded from the JN website about your site’s observations, or collective data from North and South America may be used for the students to graph and analyze. Comparing monarch populations for different seasons, years, and locations (North and South America) would add complexity. The JN exercise about estimating the area covered by the twelve S. American sanctuaries may also be useful.

estiating area

High School:

Next. Gen. Science:

HS-LS2-2 Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.

Students may use data from the JN website to analyze information about wintering monarch populations in Mexico and North America and then discuss how declining resources, and forested habitat, in Mexico may affect future populations in both North and south America. This should also include some focus on human development in South America near the butterfly wintering grounds. Links to Google Earth images are provided on the site, as well as information (satellite images and maps) about forestation and vegetation. JN also provides information on how to statistically quantify populations on their website, including graphs, charts, and a simulation that may be useful.

HS-LS4-5 Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.

Students may use data from the JN website to analyze information about wintering monarch populations in Mexico and North America and then discuss how declining resources, and forested habitat, in Mexico may affect future populations in both North and south America. This should also include some focus on human development in South America near the butterfly wintering grounds. Links to Google Earth images are provided on the site, as well as information (satellite images and maps) about forestation and vegetation. Students may focus on drawing supporting evidence for monarch population decline and changes and the possibility of extinction.


When not writing her science and education blog The Infinite Spider, Karen McDonald is a guest blogger, curriculum developer, science content editor, and outdoor educator with over thirteen years in informal science education. She has an MS in Biology and a BS in Environmental Science and Philosophy. Currently she works for the Smithsonian and contracts for Discovery Channel. You can find her most evening rowing or writing.

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