Fourth grade science teachers, Mrs. Spencer, Mrs. Crosby and LMS June Hartig accepted the challenge to observe monarch butterflies from the instar larvae stage, through pupation until their emergence as new butterflies occurring sometime after Thanksgiving. The kits are part of the Monarchs in Space: The Challenges of Microgravity, being conducted by NASA on the International Space Station. (ISS) Sending monarchs into space offers an opportunity for students to learn the many stages of monarch biology. If the monarchs cannot perform successful pupating, then scientists and students will learn about their limitations, but also that gravity is essential for this function. Enjoy the slideshow and learn how well our Earth "butterflynauts" are doing in their weightless chamber simulation. The specimens arrived in mid November and are now in the chrysalis stage. Learn more about Monarchs in Space!
We hope to see the butterflies emerge before the winter holidays. Check our page for new photos soon!
Mrs. Spencer's 4th Grade Science Students
December 9, 2009 - Waiting, still no butterflies.
December 11, 2009 - Still waiting, but noticed change in chrysalis color - S. Cross
December 14, 2009 early morning - We have a butterfly!
December 14, 2009 - I saw the monarch butterfly push out of its chrysalis and then fall in the chamber. Mrs. Spencer put it on the tree. The monarch butterfly pumped blood into his wings. J. Bland
When I saw the buttefly, it was falling, then it landed. It started to flap its wings. S. Cross
December 15, 2009 - I had so much fun doing the Monarchs in Space project. I got to watch the butterfly come out today. We took lots of pictures when they were little. E. Raia
It was fun watching Monarachs in Space. I enjoyed seeing the butterflies come out of their chrysalis. L. Hill
The first butterfly is feeding on its sugar water cottonballs.
Mrs. Spencer: Our final results were distressing. Of the 6 monarchs only 3 emerged. Of those 3, one had deformed wings. The 3 that didn't emerge tried to emerge but were unable to do so.
I have raised Monarchs for years. Each year we release between 50 and 100 butterflies. In all the years, I've only had a few not emerge properly.
The ones I raise eat local milkweed or milkweed grown from seeds I brought back from Morocco. The Moroccan milkweed does not winter over. It dies. I harvest the seeds in the fall and start over in the spring. The Monarchs do very well on it. It is very different from the American variety. The leaves are much larger and fleshier.
I believe our poor results were due to the artifical diet. I believe it lacks some nutrient needed for success. I have experienced the same thing with using silkworm chow with silklworms. They don't grow as large, their cocoons are not as good and there are problems associated with emerging. Silkworms raised on fresh mulberry leaves do not have the same poor results.
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related : chamber materials (1) | chamber prep (2) | Chrysalis stage (2) | chrysalis stage; changing color (1) | chrysalis2 (1) | continuing instar (1) | continuing instar stage (1) | diet & chamber ready (1) | growing & exploring (1) | J stage to chrysalis (1) | larvae & diet (1) | larvae & diet2 (1) | larvae feeding (1) | Late fifth prepupa; making a J (1) | late instar; searching (1) | mid instar (1) | nearing J stage (2) | searching for a place to pupate (1)