Friday November 15, 2019
Home Lead Story US Fifth Grad...

US Fifth Graders Learning Gardening And Help Save the Monarch Butterfly

Eleven-year-old Amelia Jakum loves to observe nature, and gets excited for the discoveries she makes in the garden.

0
//
Monarchs lay their eggs on the milkweed plants the P.B. Smith students grew from seeds in their butterfly garden.
Monarchs lay their eggs on the milkweed plants the P.B. Smith students grew from seeds in their butterfly garden. VOA

P.B. Smith Elementary School in Warrenton, Virginia, is one of a growing number of schools around the United States that have vegetable gardens. Teaching children about gardening gives them a chance to get hands-on experience with growing and eating vegetables, learning about nutrition and nature in the process. Last year, this school’s beautiful, well-kept green space got a valuable addition — a garden filled with plants that attract butterflies.

Learning about butterflies

In class, members of the P.B. Smith Elementary School’s ecology club learn about butterflies — monarch butterflies, in particular. They talk about the need for certain plants for an organism to survive. They learn about life cycles, from eggs to larva, pupa and adult.

But the learning is not complete without the hands-on part. Ecology Club teacher Barbara Dennee said that happens when her class visits the garden. There, they wait patiently to see this life cycle unfold.

The students’ patience was rewarded when monarch butterflies landed in their garden. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed plants, which have been disappearing due to the use of herbicides and unfavorable weather conditions. That means monarchs have fewer places to stop their migration journey between Canada and Mexico.

“We had probably about a dozen monarchs, and in years past, we never had any,” Dennee said. “So, we feel like we’ve definitely been a good station for the monarchs. Once they emerge from their chrysalis, they fly away. They know where to go. I don’t know how to go to Mexico, but they do. They follow the sun, and the kids have helped them in that.”

A monarch butterfly rests on a milkweed plant in the P.B. Smith Elementary School butterfly garden.
A monarch butterfly rests on a milkweed plant in the P.B. Smith Elementary School butterfly garden. VOA

Observations and discoveries

Eleven-year-old Amelia Jakum loves to observe nature, and gets excited for the discoveries she makes in the garden.

“We saw several swallowtails, caterpillars,” she said. “There is this really fat one that should be turning to chrysalis very soon. I’m quite surprised at how it can turn into chrysalis. And just how does its body form into a beautiful body of a butterfly?”

The kids’ excitement motivated them to learn more about butterflies, how they survive and what plants they feed on, particularly milkweeds.

“That’s the host for the butterfly, the monarch especially,” Dennee explained. “We planted from seeds the milkweed plant. Today, we didn’t see any monarchs, but we did see swallowtail caterpillars. They like dill and parsley. So, the kids learn that different kinds of butterflies are not competing for the food. They live harmoniously.”

Ten-year-old Keenan Whitney said learning about butterflies was an eye-opener.

“I only thought they pollinated one flower, for some reason. But I learned they pollinated a lot of flowers, and that if we didn’t have butterflies, we probably wouldn’t have any food. We wouldn’t be alive,” he said.

When kids become that aware of the interconnections between humans and nature, Dennee said, it means her club succeeded in its mission.

A Black Swallowtail caterpillar nibbles on parsley, a favorite meal.
A Black Swallowtail caterpillar nibbles on parsley, a favorite meal. VOA

“One of our missions for the Ecology Club is to be good stewards of the earth, and they can save this world,” she said. “They can say these words, but they don’t really understand until they actually do something.”

A gift to her old school

When the ecology club created its vegetable garden a couple of years ago, students started to learn how to plant and harvest a variety of herbs and vegetables. They give part of the produce to the school’s cafeteria and donated the rest to a local food bank.

Adding a new garden to attract butterflies was the brainchild of Keely Scott, a former student who has always been involved in school activities and clubs. Last year, the high school student needed a Girl Scout project. She went back to P.B. Smith and created a butterfly garden.

A male monarch butterfly displays the species' distinctive black and orange pattern.
A male monarch butterfly displays the species’ distinctive black and orange pattern. VOA

“We had a butterfly bush at my house,” she said. “We actually had to cut it down when we built our deck, and I missed it so much. I loved looking at the butterflies and to increase its population in our area. I thought I can fix that. So, I developed this idea, and Mrs. Dennee supported me 100 percent.”

School principal Linda Payne Smith said Scott not only presented her old school with a beautiful garden, she also served as a positive role model for its students.

Honeybees also visit the tropical milkweed plants
Honeybees also visit the tropical milkweed plants. VOA

Also read: Is gardening safe in polluted cities? New study says ‘Yes’

“We want the kids to take ownership of those gardens and come back like our senior Keely Scott has come back and created the butterfly garden,” she said. “We hope that their love for the environment started at P.B. Smith, that we have seen it evolve.” (VOA)

Next Story

Google Gives Up on US Carriers, will Roll Out its Own RCS Chat System

Plus, you'll get better group chats, with the ability to name groups, add and remove people to and from groups, and see if people haven't seen the latest messages

0
Google, US, RCS
With RCS on Android, when you and your friends message each other with new chat features, you can chat over Wi-Fi or mobile data, send and receive high-resolution photos and videos, and see if people have received your latest messages. Pixabay

Tired of dilly-dallying at the end of US telecom carriers, Google has announced to roll out its own Rich Communication Services (RCS) on Android that will replace the traditional SMS text messaging with more useful chat features.

“To make your conversations more seamless, we’ve worked on upgrading traditional SMS text messaging with more useful chat features, powered by RCS (Rich Communication Services),” Google said in a statement on Thursday.

With RCS on Android, when you and your friends message each other with new chat features, you can chat over Wi-Fi or mobile data, send and receive high-resolution photos and videos, and see if people have received your latest messages.

“Plus, you’ll get better group chats, with the ability to name groups, add and remove people to and from groups, and see if people haven’t seen the latest messages,” informed Google.

Google, US, RCS
To make your conversations more seamless, we’ve worked on upgrading traditional SMS text messaging with more useful chat features, powered by RCS (Rich Communication Services). Pixabay

Earlier this year, Google enabled the ability for anyone in the UK, France, and Mexico to get chat features in Messages.

Users of Google’s app will eventually see a notification to “Do more with Messages,” and then they’ll be able to “enable chat features” which is RCS.

Chat features are already available for some in Google Messages, and are being broadly rolled out in the US.

“If you already have Messages, you’ll also be prompted to enable chat features in the coming weeks. If you don’t have Messages, you can download it on the Play Store. We expect this service to be broadly available in the US by the end of year,” said the company.

Also Read- India Second to US in Demanding Facebook User Data, Requests Up by 37%

Google said it is committed to working with its partners, including carriers and device makers, to provide a consistent and interoperable experience for everyone on Android.

RCS is a communication protocol between mobile telephone carriers and between phone and carrier, aiming at replacing SMS messages with a text-message system that is richer and can transmit in-call multimedia. (IANS)