Real-World Collaboration with Rochester’s Seneca Park Zoo

Posted on January 24th, 2015 by ssorrentino

Did you know that it is a strong possibility there will come a time when people living in the northeastern United States may no longer see monarch butterflies? The extensive use of a popular weed killer in the upper mid-western states is to blame. While good for corn and soybean production, this weed killer kills milkweed – the only plant that monarch caterpillars can eat. Northern monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico every year for the winter. On their trek back north, they lay eggs along the way…

Weed killer = less milkweed = less food for caterpillars = fewer monarch butterflies in Northeastern United States

Allendale Columbia School has partnered with Rochester’s Seneca Park Zoo to try to save the monarch butterflies by designing and planting a butterfly garden. Lower School S.T.E.M. department members and teachers Carolyn Brockler, Kristen McKenzie, and Gabe Costanzo, are working together to oversee, plan, and implement this ongoing and exciting collaboration.

The first and third graders at AC are becoming butterfly experts by working directly with the staff at the Seneca Park Zoo. Experts from the zoo came to the school and delivered a highly engaging presentation. For instance, did you know that the presence of butterflies indicates a healthy ecosystem?

Our fourth grade students are researching the types of plants that should be incorporated in the butterfly garden to ensure healthy growth during all phases of the butterfly life cycle, including organic alternatives to weed killers. The students will also write blogs to spread the word on their research findings and creating a pledge as they continue their work on the development of the school butterfly garden.

The fifth graders will be surveying and staking out the appropriate location for a 10’ by 10’ butterfly garden. Conditions such as landscape, amount of sunlight, and ability to expand will need to be taken into consideration. A video documentary that follows this project, from conception to completion, is also in the works.

The next visit from the zoo will occur in the spring. During this visit, the first and third graders will share their butterfly knowledge with the rest of the Lower School and the local community. Immediately following the presentation, staff from the Seneca Park Zoo will assist the students with the actual planting of the butterfly garden.

This real world, collaborative experience continues to extend student learning in authentic problem-solving, critical and creative thinking, and solution-focused design thinking. Our Lower School S.T.E.M. students at AC are working directly with professionals and scientists. Most exciting of all, our young students are making relevant connections with their content area learning and the skills applied by creating innovative solutions to the problems currently impacting their world!



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Posted in: Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Lower School, Second Grade, Third Grade

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