Welcome Back Monarchs: The Inquiry Process

By Carol Ann Delancy (K/1 Magnet)


During their excitement of having received Monarchs Butterflies back from Mexico, the children asked many questions. Most of them expressed an interest in the properties of air and wind currents. They knew through their own abilities to reason and to make logical deductions that the "real" Monarchs needed help from the wind in order to travel such long distances.

Questions They Had

How does the wind help the Monarchs while they are in flight?

Why doesn't the Monarchs fall out of the sky during their long trips?

How fast can the wind blow?

What are the wind and air made up of?

Are the wind and the air the same?

How strong is the wind?

What They Knew

The wind makes tornados when cold and hot air spins around together.

The wind makes hurricanes by blowing sea water very hard.

The wind can make sounds.

The wind can make a boat sail.

The wind can blow down a tree.

The wind can slam a door.

The wind can toss a bus.

The wind can cool us down on hot days.

The wind can fly our kites.

The wind can scatter leaves on the ground.

We cannot taste the wind.

We cannot see the wind.

We cannot smell the wind.

We can feel the wind when it blows on our faces and tosses our hair.

What We Found Out From Books, The Internet, Experts And Experimentation

1) The wind is air moving. They are both the same. When we are in our classroom the air around us is still. But, when we go outside we can feel the wind blowing up against us.

2) Air can become very strong when it is moving and is wind. On windy days the wind can toss our hair and slam doors. The strongest winds are hurricane winds. They can blow down trees and toss our mom's and dad's cars across the street.

Inquiry Experiment:

We blew up medium sized balloons and held the nasals. Then we counted to three and all let them go. The balloons flew across our classroom turning in all directions. We found out that when air is trapped (like in currents) it can become a power source and push or propel objects. This would be very helpful to the Monarch Butterflies as they travel.

3) Wind currents will allow objects to glide without using a lot of energy. We know that the Monarch Butterflies have to travel a long ways during their migration. We also know that the wind currents have to help them by letting them glide and pushing them on. If they had to use a lot of energy, they would die in a very short while.

Inquiry Experiment

We all made paper airplanes and took them outside. We then threw them up into the air to see what the wind would do with them. Some of the planes flew only a short distance. Others flew a very long distance. But, the interesting ones flew in all sorts of directions. Those planes where trapped in wind currents.

4) Butterflies always float to the ground very slowly when they land. The air resistance allows them to do this because of the shapes of their bodies and their large wing spans.

Inquiry Experiment

We stood on our chairs and dropped several objects to the floor. Our handwriting papers floated to the ground very slowly like a parachutes. They were meeting air resistance. We found out that air will resist objects traveling through it. This is because they are rubbing up against the atoms and gases that make it up. Our handwriting papers are flat and wide. Their shape helped the air to resist them.

We then dropped our pencils. They went straight to the floor. We found out that because of their shape, they could resist air and move quickly through it. Our pencils are long with pointed tips like airplanes. We found out that the need for air resistance is a reason why butterflies are made the way that they are.

Conclusion: We found out how the Monarchs could use wind currents while migrating. They could use them to glide and push themselves along during their travels. We also concluded that they can feel the wind when it blows. And, somehow they know where and which way the wind currents are flowing. The Monarchs can identify the ones that will carry them to where they need to go. Furthermore, the Monarchs must stop and connect with different currents, like we do with planes at the airport. We know that they could not travel very long without food, water and rest just like us. We also know that their special body designs helps them to stay up in the air.