Overall, students will be demonstrating integrity, accountability, innovation, and commitment to the community by being role models and educating others about pollinator habitat restoration and the endangered species status of the monarch butterfly population. Further, my class will be given the opportunity to think globally and act locally by working with a local park and nonprofit organization. A final goal is for my classroom to make a pledge to the Illinois Monarch Project to help with monarch butterfly conservation goals. NGSS Standards: MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations. Science and Engineering Practices. Engaging in Argument from Evidence Disciplinary Core Ideas. LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience. Ecosystems are dynamic in nature; their characteristics can vary over time. Disruptions to any physical or biological component of an ecosystem can lead to shifts in all its populations. Crosscutting Concepts. Stability and Change. Small changes in one part of a system might cause large changes in another part.
This project will improve educational opportunities for my students by supplementing the science curriculum and engaging students with community outreach. The anticipated timeline for this project is as follows, seed germination will start in February-March and planting will take place in April-May. Milkweed and wildflower stems will be planted at Riverside Park and donated to the nonprofit, Innovations in STEM Education. I have seven sixth-grade special education students that will be participating in this project; although, we will provide monarch butterfly habitat information flyers and posters to Innovations in STEM Education along with our donations of milkweed stems. This organization will be reaching out to several people in the community. The goals of this project will be measured by how many stems we plant and donate. We will take a walking field trip to Riverside Park in Murphysboro and plant in an area where there are no wildflowers. A long-term goal is to revisit the site during monarch butterfly season and track data with the citizen science platform, Journey North. Research: Educating students about the natural world and incorporating hands-on science is essential in improving learning outcomes. Growing and planting native wildflowers to restore pollinator habitats will integrate STEM and 21st-Century skills by giving students the opportunity to make connections to the natural world, form applications in a real-world setting, and strengthen teamwork skills.