Observing Life Cycle Changes in Butterflies
by Connie LoBello
We did insects and now we are narrowing down our investigation to Butterflies. Students are fascinated about how a caterpillar becomes a cocoon and then becomes a butterfly. We will get cocoons (about five) and take note of the different developmental stages as they occur over time.
What We Thought We Knew
On 3-17-97, the class was divided into three groups, each group was given one of these questions to answer.
What do we know about caterpillars (Group One)?
- They come from eggs-Michael
- They don't fly-David
- They shed their skin-Laura
- They make themselves into a cocoon-Eric
- They eat their shell and the leaf they were born on-Nicole
- They are eating machines-Demetrius
- Their mothers are butterflies-Eric
- After they shed their skin, they turn into a pupa-David Some are hairy-Laura
- Some are poisonous-Eric
What do we know about cocoons (Group Two)?
- They are hard-Chris
- They are fragile and can off things easily-Johnny
- They hang from anything-Scott
- Some cocoons are made of silk-Shameka
- When the outer shell becomes hard, it is called a chrysalis-Reymundo
- They are made by caterpillars-Chris
- A butterfly develops inside-Shameka
What do we know about butterflies (Group Three)?
- They drink nectar-James
- There are many different kinds-Daniel
- They can be many different colors-David
- Some can camouflage themselves-Carcy
- They pollinate flowers-Lewis
- Monarchs migrate to Mexico during the winter-Jeb
- They have feelers-James
- It doesn't have defense mechanisms-Jeb
- They weigh about 1 gram-David
- They die easily-Lewis
Questions We Had
Mrs. LoBello asked, "What is the best way to observe the changes? How can we as a class chart the changes we observe?"
Group one was: Nicole, Laura, Demetrius, Eric, Michael, and David K.
- What kinds of caterpillars are there?-Michael
- Why do they hatch out of eggs?-Eric
- How big can they get?-Demetrius
- Which kinds of caterpillars are poisonous?-Laura
Group two was: Reymundo, Chris Scott, Shameka, Johnny
- What material is inside the cocoon?-Chris
- What does the cocoon look like on the inside?-Scott
- What is the size of the biggest cocoon in history?-Johnny
- How many days does it take for a caterpillar to spin a cocoon?-Shameka
Group three was: Jeb, David, Lewis, Carcy, James, Daniel.
- What is the size of the biggest butterfly?-James
- How many butterflies are there in the world?-Jeb
- How many different kinds of butterflies are in the world?-Lewis
What We Found Out from Books
The cocoons came from a Drago-Newton Teacher Supplies catalog. We will do additional research on the internet to find out optimal conditions for keeping cocoons.
What We Found Out from Experimentation
This experiment will start the second week in April, the week after spring break, when the cocoons come.
How We Showed We Had Learned
We intend to do some charting and graphing of the changes we see. Perhaps students will keep written journals of their daily observations, along with the date and any impresssions they have. The students have done journal writing, every day they already keep journals so this is a natural activity for the class. We will also will be taking pictures of the more dramatic changes we see as they occur, to include visual images in our project.